from "Spin" by Tim O'Brien
You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they come at you. That's the real obsession. All those stories.
* * *
It's raining today, which is far better than the sleet originally forecast. The snow in the park is dwindling in streaks and clots, and on my walks I have seen a handful of crocuses, two spindly snowdrops, and a few iris and daylily spikes. Buds are beginning to swell on the trees outside my windows, and opening day for the Red Sox is next Monday. The times they are a-changing.
Suddenly the lobster boats have been busier on the bay. Flocks of eiders gather and disperse. Bluejays clang in the shrubbery below the cliff. A row of starlings decorates a ridgeline, and two prim pigeons investigate a feeder intended for some other sort of bird. On Saturday Tom brought home soft-shell crabs for dinner.
"You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present." Yet I'm not sure what my "real obsession" is . . . stories, yes, to a degree, but also the sounds and shapes, also the unarticulated longing. Perhaps, really, the longing is the heart of the matter.