Writing is not what happens in the moment

When the explosion happens or the rainbow appears, the writer has to observe it. Then he or she must gather up the tools to write with, reflect on what has been seen, think about how it is to be recorded and finally, muster the words to describe it.

This description of the writing process is a simplified one because the input is never just one explosion or rainbow, it is also all the nitty-gritty that makes up the writer’s sensibility and character. It is all the other events experienced and processed by the writer, who without being fully aware brings all of that to bear on the explosion or the rainbow.

Writing is a kind of double living.  The writer experiences everything twice.  Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.

~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957

So, here to illustrate what writing is by showing what it is not is a rainbow, recorded by video camera as it is happening. No writing. None.


The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
~Anaïs Nin