“A Perfect Unwonder”

In a September 22, 2014 article in the Ames Tribune, David L. Ulin of the Los Angeles Times quoted from a Shane Salerno and David Shields biography of J.D. Salinger:

“It just seems to me a perfect unwonder, that writing’s almost never terrific fun. If it’s not the hardest of the arts — I think it is — it’s surely the most unnatural, and therefore the most wearying. So unreliable, so uncertain. Our instrument is a blank sheet of paper — no strings, no frets, no keys, no reed, mouthpiece, nothing to do with the body whatever — God, the unnaturalness of it. Always waiting for birth, every time we sit down to work.”

In this quote, Salinger speaks to poets and writers of all stripes. He has captured the essence of our discipline, and its difficulty. The next time you sweat over a poem or a piece of prose remember even the most successful authors share your struggle.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *