My fiction teacher, Keith Maillard, told this story: When he was writing his novel Gloria, he would spend many hours lying on his bed in the middle of the afternoon, imagining his character Gloria’s bedroom.  In particular, he would imagine her closet hanger by hanger, shelf by shelf until he got it down to every single petticoat—until her closet became so real it wasn’t imagining anymore.  Then his wife came in and asked him what he was doing.

“I’m writing,” he said.

“No you’re not.  You’re sleeping.”

So much goes into a piece of art, be it a novel or a painting or music, that is not the act of doing the thing that people think you should be doing.  In my high school Creative Writing class, my friend Adam often got scolded for not freewriting a million words in 10 minutes, and for doodling when he should be making words.  But do we need to always be making words if we are writers?  Perhaps we could do with a little veering from our form, imagining or doodling the world we wish to enter—or perhaps leaving it altogether to watch a river of milky glacial water pour over the rocks.

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