I have been struggling for weeks with a story, trying to get it to move properly and wallowing–not entirely in futility, but without any satisfactory sense of good progress. Then I picked up the Kalevala and read about whortleberries and then about a pike. The whortleberries helped, but the pike provided a flash of imagination–an image of my own, which one learns to prize–which I have been developing and has deepened out the story.
There is imagination, the insight and there is the art. You have to take that flash and tease out the implications, find its setting and circumstances and follow the leads it offers. That’s when you start going quickly until you’re far enough away from it for things to dry up and slow down again.
This business of writing steadily is not one of writing steadily. It is one more of stopping and starting, of worrying and puzzling at things till there is some new insight and a way forward for a while. A curious thing, but not without its pleasing moments.