"Here I must put the Buddha in my mouth for what I must
tell, for what Chan saw." Sketch for the novella Things That
There was a lot to be said for writing with pen on paper.
It was easy to make instantaneous deletions by simply marking
through a word or phrase, or even putting a box around a
paragraph and drawing a line through it. Additions were fast
also — simply add it above the text or draw a line and put the
new material out in the margins. And last but not least there
was the wonderful feeling of contact with the tip of the pen
moving across the paper, a kind of intimacy with what I was
But there was one big down side also. Namely, that when
I went back to the manuscript I would have a difficult or
even impossible time making out my own handwriting: A
frustrating business of interpretation. And besides the
handwriting aspect there was the fact that I would have
to do the manuscript a second time on the typewriter or,
later, the word processor.
So I finally went with the word processor solely. I'm not
the best typist, so that works against speed in additions
or deletions, and trust me I make very frequent use of the
I have so much of this old stuff. Notebook after notebook.
You know back when I first received my diagnosis and was
only given a year or two to live, I remember standing in
the kitchen with my girlfriend, thinking about the big box
I had of all the writing going back decades. And I asked her:
"What does one do with a lifetime of unpublished writing?"
I had no answer right at that moment. But eventually I found
that the answer, ironically, was simply to do more writing.
Sometimes, it's just about the process.
Manuscript for "The Ghosts of Frames" done on
Boxer Text Editor, 2011.