Finding the Words: on writing and amnesia
“I sit quietly. I tell myself, ‘You’ve done this before.’”
Amnesia in the brain but not in my hands—my fingers remember the moves, remember my favorite words, even if I can’t bring them to mind. Interesting, the way a writer’s body works. To sit down to write, and feel my memories wiped, forgetting all that came before. Do photographers forget all the portraits they took in the past—yesterday, six hours ago, three minutes ago—not the images saved to hard drives, but those gathered in recollection? When I begin to write something new, it is as if I have never before tried. My body is certain of the next sentence; I am not.
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My book was set in an office cubicle in New York. How was I to benefit from being in this rugged mountain landscape?