Tag Archives: essay

Shirley Jackson on Writing

The New Yorker recently posted the first of three essays on writing by Shirley Jackson, “Memory and Delusion,” from a forthcoming collection of Jackson’s work, Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings. My friend Vanessa shared the link on Facebook, and while the whole thing is well worth a read, I wanted to excerpt this passage, which feels especially relevant to my writing life of late:

I cannot find any patience for those people who believe that you start writing when you sit down at your desk and pick up your pen and finish writing when you put down your pen again; a writer is always writing, seeing everything through a thin mist of words, fitting swift little descriptions to everything he sees, always noticing. Just as I believe that a painter cannot sit down to his morning coffee without noticing what color it is, so a writer cannot see an odd little gesture without putting a verbal description to it, and ought never to let a moment go by undescribed.

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