“xxx,” Joan Didion

“What we need here is a montage, music over.  How she:  talked to her father and xxxx and xxxxx–

“xx,” he said.

“xxx,” she said.

How she:

“How she did this and why she did that and what the music was when they did x and x and xxx–

How he, and also she–”

The above are notes I made in 1995 for a novel I published in 1996, The Last Thing He Wanted.  I offer them as a representation of how comfortable I used to be when I wrote, how easily I did it, how little thought I gave to what I was saying until I had already said it.  In fact, in any real sense, what I was doing then was never writing at all:  I was doing no more than sketching in a rhythm and letting that rhythm tell me what I was saying.  Many of the marks I set down on the page were no more than “xxx,” or “xxxx,” symbols that meant “copy tk,” or “copy to come,” but do notice:  such symbols were arranged in specific groupings.  A single “x” differed from a double “xx,” “xxx” from “xxxx.”  The number of such symbols had a meaning.  The arrangement was the meaning.

—  Joan Didion, Blue Nights, 103-4

 

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