Friday, December 05, 2008

Horton Foote

"I live to write."

I've long maintained that writing—for those of us who really write—isn't a hobby or a love or a job, but a compulsion. I came across Foote's quotation today, and I was trying to think what it would be like to live WITHOUT writing. I'd make it a few weeks, I think, and then my head would explode. I suppose there's a certain illness or instability in someone who requires eight to ten hours a day of sublimation to maintain a sense of purpose, but hell, I guess you dance with the one who brung you.

So much of a writer's life is filtered through a narrative lens. Most every exchange, event, subtlety raises questions: Can I use that? How could I tweak that in a plot to evoke the same sentiment? Can I mirror that language for a character? It's distracting, yes, and sets one at a certain remove from life at times, but it's also a lot of goddamned fun. Sort of like playing a game in your head your whole life.

So Foote's line seems particularly apt, since for some of us, there doesn't seem to be any other way TO live.