Writing, and throwing things away

I came across a lovely quote about writing – on Graham Beattie’s blog, see my blogroll for a connection to it, it’s great – and for some reason it resonated with a very sweet quote I heard the other day about throwing things away.

E. L. Doctorow said this about writing: “It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights. But you can make the whole trip that way.”

I particularly like that because it’s reassuring about the journey that writing presents. The quote makes me feel less anxious about not knowing where I’m going with something, when I don’t know (and I often don’t). All too often I just feel my way along, and the quote suggests to me that it’ll be absolutely fine to go ahead like that. So thanks, E.L., and also thanks Graham.

And the other quote, about throwing things away? I’m told there’s a sign up in the kitchen at the Medical Foundation in north London that says: “Don’t throw anything away. There isn’t an away.”

And I suppose the reason why that gives me such pleasure is (a) it’s satisfyingly as well as surprisingly true, and (b) it kind of fits in with my writing philosophy, which is that nothing is wasted. And I do mean nothing.

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