by Aaron Gilbreath
"Writers can backtrack and pinpoint the origin of many essays, poems and stories, the moments where we recognized some shape in the ether as the start of something, a particle to split or terrain to explore. This is the proverbial “aha moment” when something clicks. Yet the whole process remains so mysterious that we often end up speaking in hazy clichés such as “something clicked” and “aha moment,” mapping a piece’s genesis on a vague psycho-geography composed of particles and ether, because the process of discovery is often as ambiguous as our understanding of it.
"There is consolation, though. The more you write, the more you learn how to generate ideas. Even if you still depend on happenstance, you develop habits. Whether the places you search are on the streets or in books or the caverns of your mind, you learn to recognize the fertile locations where subjects turn up, in the same way an urban hawk learns where the pigeons roost, and you visit those locations frequently. The writer Barry Lopez summarized this tracking ability when he said something to the effect of (I’m paraphrasing from memory): once you train your eyes to see them, you realize that stories are everywhere. That’s true. But how do you learn to see?"
Via Laura Brown, Charles Fischer