bird by bird: the unspeakable

February 1, 2008

From Anne Lamott’s fantastic book on writing (and life), Bird by Bird:

We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words–not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues.

When I am marked by a film, a book, a painting, or any artistic piece, there is a quality to it that captures what Anne Lamott explains here. The best creative expressions are those that usher us into places that we don’t want to go, or places we yearn to go, but don’t seem to know how.

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