On Writing, Rainy Days, and Annie Dillard

 It’s been raining for days, and there’s a small lake growing in the drive under the car. Now my feet are slightly damp. There’s a window, here, to the left, and it’s beaded with droplets. Outdoors, it’s green, wet, dreary. I hear the birds, but they are tucked away deep inside of the trees, no doubt whispering amongst one another about their plans for the summer. Like other melancholic personalities, I love the rain. Rainy days are productive days. I think clearly and writing comes easily. I look forward to these dreary days, shielded from the sun, because I know that the muse speaks incessantly. (Apparently, she, too, enjoys the rain.)

Annie Dillard cleverly describes the writing process:

Every morning you climb several flights of stairs, enter your study, open the French doors, and slide your desk and chair out into the middle of the air. The desk and chair float thirty feet from the ground, between the crowns of maple trees. The furniture is in place; you go back for your thermos of coffee. Then, wincing, you step out again through the French doors and sit down on the chair and look over the desktop. You can see clear to the river from here in winter. You pour yourself a cup of coffee. Birds fly under your chair. In spring, when the leaves open in the maples’ crowns, your view stops in the treetops just beyond the desk; yellow warblers hiss and whisper on the high twigs, and catch flies. Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.

If you write: get to work. Rain is an oasis in a desert of dry, sandy, every-word-I-type-is-like-pulling-teeth sort of writing days. On rainy days you don’t have to turn the flywheel to keep the desk floating midair; it will float on its own, like a canoe on a lake.


3 thoughts on “On Writing, Rainy Days, and Annie Dillard

  1. I like this, Travis. The old cliche–variations on the concept that a writer learns to write by writing–is, indeed, true. Many folks are in love with the idea of writing and quickly discover that writers write because they have to.

  2. (That was posted accidentally!) Last sentence was supposed to say this: “Many folks are in love with the idea of writing; they quickly discover that writing requires a lot of difficult, draining, often mind-numbing work! Writers write because they have to.

    Have you read Kathleen Norris’s recent book _Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life_? Your reference to melancholy made me think of it. Hope you are well and happy.


  3. Thanks, Prof. Rohde. The only book I’ve read of Norris’s is _Dakota_ so I need to get a hold of _Acedia & Me_. Thanks for the suggestion! I agree with you; writing is tedious and draining, even frustrating at times. Sometimes I feel like flinging my netbook across the room.

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