300 Arguments


It takes x hours to write a book and some percentage of x hours to wish I were a different writer, writing a different book.

A great photographer insists on writing poems. A brilliant essayist insists on writing novels. A singer with a voice like an angel insists on singing only her own, terrible songs. So when people tell me I should try to write this or that thing I don’t want to write, I know what they mean.

I don’t write long forms because I’m not interested in artificial deceleration. As soon as I see the glimmer of a consequence, I pull the trigger.

My least favorite received idea about writing is that one must find one’s voice, as if it’s there inside you, ready to be turned on like a player piano. Like character, its very existence depends on interaction with the world.

Slowly, slowly, I accumulate sentences. I have no idea what I’m doing until suddenly it reveals itself, almost done.

~ Sarah Manguso, excerpts on writing from her new book titled “300 Arguments” (February 7, 2017)

Inspired by brainpickings:

I learned that, to be a writer, one has first got to be what he is, what he was born…. You had only to remember what you were.

~ William Faulkner, Essays, Speeches & Public Letters

Related Posts: Sarah Manguso


  1. Love the sentences you accumulate, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Juicy captures!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i love these!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is it more satisfying when someone finally finds the itch in the middle of your back, or when you just reach up and scratch it yourself on the first try? It depends on your erotics of helplessness.

      ~ Sarah Manguso, from “300 Arguments” (Graywolf Press, 2017)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good thoughts and truisms.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I find there are as many approaches to writing, or any other passion that produces a product others get to experience, as there are people.

    One thing I know for sure, we love it when you write, David. Very unique!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cannot tell you how much I agree with her second paragraph–people tell me all that time what I should write–but I can only write what I can write….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. No book is the same. Each of us has a unique voice. That’s why I love writing. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds so familiar, especially the last part about what I’m writing not revealing itself until it’s nearly done

    Liked by 1 person

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