Conversation With Unknowns

Writers on writing, overheard.

six halogen bulbs

What are you working on?

I am writing a series of stories. I think. Or something.

What are they about?

They are about what this book is. They are still coming.

What is this book?

Complicated, I guess. They keep adding new parts.

So, what do you do?

I listen and try to write as they come. I guess it would be easier if so much of what they do didn’t evade language.

Wait. That doesn’t make sense. How can any part of writing evade language?

I mean the verbal kind. The kind I know.

What do they use?

It’s more like an incandescent unknowing. Like the brilliance of the world after memory loss.

Do you speak that?

I feel like I could once but lost it. I am trying to learn. But I guess I am a slow learner. I keep defaulting to the old expectation that they speak mine, forgetting I’m the visitor.


Inspired when I encountered Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ use of the phrase “incandescent unknowing” in reference to her experience of memory loss, which she relates interestingly to her process of storytelling in this interview she gave to Kaveh Akbar.


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