on process

..I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

-Joan Didion

I started writing an essay. I mean actually writing down words.

It was writing itself, in my mind, as I sat at the bar in Intelligentsia in Pasadena, as I walked up the to the plane in Burbank, as I walked to Valentine’s in downtown Portland.

Then I was at Valentine’s upstairs, a soft green lighting above me, a tiny tealight candle on the table, and then it was a burst, the dam could not hold, a dam I created. The dam that did not hold, because of the flood, the rush of the flood.

Then there was the bus to catch, the 35 to West Linn to be exact.

* * *

I’ll look you up when I’m in LA.

If I’m still in LA.

She said it, as she walked away, did not look at him, he looked at her. She said it, not me. Why does part of me feel like I’m leaving, when I’m just getting my footing.

* * *

Flying to Monterey I had a sharp apprehension of the many times before when I had, like Lincoln Steffens, “come back,” flown west, followed the sun, each time experiencing a lightening of spirit as the land below opened up, the checkerboards of the midwestern plains giving way to the vast empty reach between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada; then home, there, where I was from, me, California. It would be a while before I realized that “me” is what we think when our parents die, even at my age, who will look out for me now, who will remember me as I was, who will know what happens to me now, where will I be from.

-Joan Didion

* * *

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