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Journal vs. Diary vs. Notebook

Not necessarily for the better, but the form of a journal nudges your thinking into becoming more linear, in-depth, focused, and comprehensible for a reader with a quick eye and probable impatience. It encourages that word that most writers hate yet desperately need—discipline.

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By “craft” I mean not just prosody, but structure, point of view, rhetorical elements, and so on–all that shapes the poem’s language into a stance toward the subject. Of course, there is always some difference between the writing and its subject; the difference is inherent in language itself, inherent in literary genres. A good political poem will understand this difference, yet will work, by way of craft, to engage the subject as fully, intensely, I daresay truly, as possible.

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Book notions decide their own tone and style, you know? From the first line, the first page, they’re a certain animal. It’s not a calculation as such. It’s more like what toddlers do with those shape toys: they see a hole and pick up the right shape to fill it.

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Every book is for someone. The act of writing may be a solitary, but it is always a reach toward another person–a single person–since every book is read alone. The writer does not know for whom she writes. The reader’s face is invisible, and yet, every sentence inscribed on a page represents a bid for contact and a hope for understanding.

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Anyway, one waits for the creative flow to start. One cannot force it, and shouldn’t. This is what I would like to make clear: that a creative novelist—or dramatist for that matter—always relates back to what he or she has stored up from the first two or three decades of life. Childhood and youth are the source. Certainly all that I have written— the voices, faces, places, and images—the whole creative thrust, comes from my early life.

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