“Humanity is losing its ability to be alone with nothing but our thoughts. Both writing and reading are solitary acts. They are also liberating acts that can free practitioners of either from reality for as long as someone chooses to read or write. You fall into the moment of the act, commit yourself to it, indulge imagination to the point that it usurps the daily grind – the tedium of work, relationship troubles, baleful news reports – and you the reader, you the writer, are all that exist as a sounding board for the words, no matter what their story.”
"That’s the beauty of this addiction—you have to move on, no retirement here, look out ahead, though you can’t see where you’re going. First you have nothing, and then, astonishingly, after ripping out your brain and your heart and betraying your friends and ex-lovers and dreaming like a zombie over the page till you can’t see or hear or smell or taste, you have something. Something new. Something of value. Something to hold up and admire. And then? Well, you’ve got a jones, haven’t you? And you start all over again, with nothing."
This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
— Gary Provost, quoted in Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools
Now I must get back to working on a poem I have no hope for because it is important to keep writing even when you aren’t writing worth shit. There’s a lot of luck involved in being struck by lightning, so you you want to make sure you’re holding a pen when it happens.
On the one hand, I love the solitude of writing, being alone with nothing between me and the poems I am making, and on the other, I love the company of books of poetry on my desk and on the floor all around my desk when I’m really working hard. They don’t tell me what to do or ask anything of me; they just give me a place to start and a place to return.