craft / essays

Dagoberto Gilb on Writing Essays

On writing essays: “I assure you, every one of them has given me such pleasure and satisfaction, the same kind I had when I used to cut wood with my skilsaw and drive nails and build…. Each word is a rock I’ve placed personally into a wall–five go in and I pick through a pile and find another, shift them all around until it’s right. I’ve chipped and nicked at most so they look to me like good sentences, good paragraphs. If I don’t think of myself as the smartest, I do feel a strength in my working of the craft, so that every time I finish something, I’m maybe too proud of myself, can hardly believe that I did it, that I could. The words are beyond my own physical self or nature, because I was not born to be a writer, I’ve just done it anyway. Often this work is outright fun, almost as fun as a good construction job where we were all muscles sweating and laughing and building shit and getting paid at the same time–living and working–except writing work is alone, only an imaginary crew.” (Introduction, xiv)

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