I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.

–Chinese Proverb

The rule of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say.

–Anais Nin

I believe in not quite knowing. A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning. I write out of curiousity and bewilderment.

–William Trevor

The old saw about writing is Write What You Know. But the above talk more about writing what you don\’t know. Or finding out what you do know through the writing. Kind of like morning pages. I really don\’t know what I think about things until I run a few miles pondering it and I don\’t know what I feel about things until I scribble a few lines about it in a ten cent spiral notebook.

I have tons of these notebooks in a closet, a closet I\’m getting ready to pack up before the move. My first thought is do I really want to keep them? Am I going to read them someday? Probably not. Will my children read them some day, and would they want to? There\’s a lot of stuff there written early in the mornings, illegible. But if I keep them all, there\’s quantity. There\’s a solid feel in this little box, my words have a physical weight and heft that is quite comforting. So, yeah, I\’ll keep them. I\’ve been having my kids shred a two foot stack of printed manuscripts, earlier versions of Practical Flying. The shreds are being used as packing material, so my words are protecting fragile things. Kind of comforting. It\’s absolutely amazing how much the book has changed.

But write what you know seems like bad advice in a world where we really don\’t know. Not that there as ever been a world where we do know, but it\’s so much easier to find things we don\’t know. To write is to learn. Or the path, process, whatever zen word you\’d like, to learning. At least my bumpy trail. Some people think on their feet, some think with their voices, (and verbal, oral thinkers drive me nuts!) and some think on the page. Guilty as charged.