With their words, they gave me the world. They turned handles, lifted latches, opened doors, opened eyes and ears.
I was possessed. I had to write, but what could I possibly offer that hadn’t already been chewed, digested, even spit out? I needed a place or a thing in the world that I could follow, describe, make my own. Like Poe and his oily blackbirds and thick, white vulture eyes, like Melville and his twin leviathans—the whale and madness—like Dickinson who saw the great workings of heaven and earth illuminated in the small things of daily life, the teacup, the field mouse, the narrow, slanted sunbeam, like Emerson and his all-seeing eyeball and his commune with the Universal Being. But it seemed from teacup to ontological status, it had all been spoken for. What was left for me?
They offered me a world, but I couldn’t make it a labyrinth that even Theseus could not escape from. I knew what I had to do. I had to walk back to that room, to those four walls, to that desk, and that blank sheet of paper and be sure to close the door behind me the same way I would have to shut the books of Poe, of Melville, of Dickinson.
Like the man performing as a human cannonball, sometimes to go out, you have to go in. So, finally, sitting down at the desk, I picked up my pen and lit the fuse.