But anyway, yesterday morning I went to have breakfast with my sister. The morning was unexpectedly super snowy, so I drove along the Bangerter Highway very, very slowly and listened to this interview with Philip Roth, who, as you probably know, has retired from writing. He had this to say about the nature of the work:
"Solving the problem of the book you're writing always remains hard work, and your progress is snail-like. Even if you write a book in two years, sometimes you get a page a day, sometimes you get no pages ... every sentence raises a problem, and essentially what you're doing is connecting one sentence to the next. And you write a sentence and you have to figure out what comes next or what doesn't come next."While I was driving in the snow, I tried on the thought of doing what Roth had done--realizing that I wasn't really writing poems anymore, and so giving the writing of poems up. Periodically I wonder about this, although really, it's mostly a hypothetical exercise. You should really listen to the interview, because he has trenchant remarks about naps, which is his new vocation.
I got to my destination, had delicious French toast and a soul-nourishing conversation with my sister, and came home.
Later that day, the historian and I went to The King's English for a reading and book-signing by David McGlynn, whom I had the good fortune to meet at AWP. Dr. Write (whose friend Mr. McGlynn is) recommended his book A Door in the Ocean to me. Listening to him read from the book, a memoir, reminded me that I am a writer, that writing is and should be a focus of my life. Listening to him read made me want to write, write about all kinds of things.
I am very satisfied to report that in between the French toast and the reading, I picked up and revised a poem that I have been incompetently flailing at for quite awhile now. I attribute this combination of resolve and insight to the fact that I have been writing all week long. All week long, I have been outlining and reading and note-taking and summarizing and framing arguments and drafting remarks. And even this kind of writing, which only appears to be completely unrelated to poetry, helped me to think more intelligently and more pointedly about my poem.