What is Writing Like?

The culture tells a lot of stories about the inner lives of writers and perhaps not all these stories are wrong. Rarely depicted at near distance, however, are the movements of thought and attention from which writing actually emerges––the cognitive, affective, even physical experience of writing as lived in real time. This would be a harder story to tell, one lacking in apparent drama. Can we imagine a thick description of this situation? Do you know of any already existing? What kind of decisions do you understand yourself to be making as you write? I don’t mean on the level of craft or form (for which we have robust vocabulary already), but on the smaller scale of opening and closing the gates of focus, variously stage-managing or letting happen the thought-action, indulging some instincts and denying others as you work to find a next thing to put on the page. How would you narrate the tedium and thrill of this dynamic? What do you experience yourself to be actually doing as you sit there, suffering the self-inflicted wound of being sealed off from life, waiting for, well, what?