This morning the task of writing a novel seems to be an especially great effort.
I imagine one day standing before a room of readers and getting a question about the process of writing. I imagine answering them as only a survivor of such an ordeal can. I imagine my answer being a metaphor bulging with wit and meaning – because this is what they expect of me.
“How many of you have put together a 5000-piece puzzle?” I’d get a few hands, and then I’d lay it out for them.
“OK. How many of you have composed a photograph – setting up every detail of lighting, framing, filter and angle – and taken the photograph, on film, set up a darkroom with all the tubs of chemicals and rinse baths and developed the print, on paper that you buy 500 sheets at a time, then went and cut down a tree and took the sawdust and mixed it with a compound made of raw materials procured from the hardware store and your garden – which you tilled and fertilized and planted in the spring for the purpose, molded the sawdust into a block using a form you built from the lumber from the same tree and then with a handsaw cut the block into slices of paperboard, which you soaked, dried, and pressed, glued the now dry photograph onto the paperboard with an adhesive you made from raw materials procured from the hardware store and your garden, cut the giant photo-card up into 5000 pieces with your pocket knife, and then put it together, whittling, filing, and sanding each piece as you went so that they’d fit perfectly together, all while not compromising the quality of the photograph?”
I imagine no one raising their hand except me, a few of my MFA buddies, and maybe a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon sitting in the back row.