"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

04 April 2014


The resources in language and the adventures in writing are available to us—I don’t want to echo Wordsworth on this—in the language we use everyday, though it is not necessarily that of ordinary people in whatever circle we inhabit. We may not be with ordinary people (I’d like to be with extraordinary people, myself), but it would be the language they use not when they are writing but when they are talking, when they are saying things like, Pass the butter. Bonuses in language are not literary bonuses; they are available to everyone who flourishes the language every day with people who are their peers in communication. It would be a mistake to try to heighten or lower my place in the language that comes to me. Instead, I try to accept whatever fluency and fluidity is possible at my level of understanding with my kind of people. To do it artificially, to try to hype myself into being a better writer by doggedly reading better literature, is also a mistake. I learn to use the language by the pleasures it gives me when I am able to swim in it or maneuver in it or interchange in it with the people around me.

William Stafford


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