– Feels like this

In an essay, Patricia Hampl writes:

I was attracted too to the in-between position of the writer. More exactly, I was after the suspended state that comes with the act of writing: not happy, not sad; uncertain of the next turn, yet not lost; here, but really there, the there of an unmapped geography…

The elusive pleasure to be found in writing (and only in it, not the before of anticipation, not the after of accomplishment) is in following the drift, inkling your way toward meaning. (126)

I agree: not the before, not the after, the in.

And yesterday, walking to the train and having one of those imaginary conversations that I often do with those who populate my head, I said (internally and not out loud), “Didn’t you know that I am secretly a detective?”

And while I’m not actually a detective (yet how would you know?), I am when I’m writing.


Hampl, Patricia. “Other People’s Secrets.” The Business of Memory: The Art of Remembering in an Age of Forgetting, ed. Charles Baxter. St. Paul, MN, Graywolf Press: 1999. 116-131.

P.S. Thank you to Lowry Pei for recommending the essay, which is interesting in many ways.

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