In John Barth’s The Tidewater Tales, the main character (Peter something, I’ll have to look it up) is a writer who has severe writer’s block. He and his wife decide to go on a sailboat voyage (because, you know, everyone has a sailboat to escape to when they have problems; as much as I admire Barth’s technique, his world of East Coast affluence can be a bit off-putting) and to tell each other stories – but the novelist isn’t allowed to write down anything other than notes. The idea is that the novelist will become pregnant with inspiration, and that he will “give birth” to a new work of fiction when they return from their voyage.
I loved Barth in college, and while I haven’t read him much since then, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea behind the process he describes for his fictional novelist.
That’s why, this week, I’ve refrained from thinking too much about possible answers to my questions. I wanted to spend some time sailing through the questions themselves, if you will. But in addition to listening to other people’s questions, I am also listening to the possible answers and ideas to my questions that people have put forth; I am keeping all these things and pondering them in my heart.