Your mind is a fog! Or was it a car?

Here, choose one option: YOUR mind is a FOG, or a CAR?

Don’t understand where I’m going with this? Read below.


Can you guys read that? Geez. I almost can’t. But here it is again, in visible English:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E. L. Doctorow

Either Doctorow was a genius, or a man in need of some sleep because he’d been awake all night writing. Wish I could do that! Whatever his reason for deeming writing as an act of driving in a fog, I think he was onto something. I don’t quite remember where I was or what I was watching, but a couple of days ago, there was a program on that showed few writers talking about the writing process and I was almost hysterically laughing not because I’ve lost my mind, but because these writers were saying things that sounded normal to me, but wouldn’t sound so to others.

What was so funny? Well, it was what they said about how they write that was funny; they were mentioning how they (we) don’t know what we are writing till we write it.

Now that I’ve come across Doctorow’s quote, I think I will forever describe this crazy sense of writing direction as akin to driving in a heavy fog, and not being able to see beyond the edge of the headlights.

That’s how it is, you know, writing a story, novel, poem etc. You have an idea, a bigger, but vague picture of what the story will be, but the exact shape is unknown. When I start writing, I usually have just a vague idea of the story, except the one thing that has triggered the story. The trigger can be an idea, a dialogue, a character, an event, an image, a glimpse, etc. anything really. That’s the only thing I’ll know in detail when I start out. The rest is really a journey of discovery as I follow the story, then follow the characters, and sometimes find that the beast is morphing, hopefully for the better.

So my question again, is my mind fog or a car?

I think it’s fog really and not the car. I’m actually never really driving the story, but the story is driving itself through the fog, finding it’s path, and I, the fog, move, morph, get out-of-the-way so the story can find it’s path. We all know how a foggy day turns out, with bright sunshine, so I actually can hold my chin up high knowing that because of the fog, the story has found interesting pathways it would not have normally taken had there been a GPS attached to its windscreen.

My mind is a fog. Be the fog. I’m a fog!

PS. Weather update: No fog predicted tomorrow. But finger’s crossed!



2 thoughts on “Your mind is a fog! Or was it a car?

Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing your insight. I agree about the fog metaphor and to add further, I specifically believe it’s a lifting fog. The more I write, the more I can see. The further I enter the fog and the story takes shape, the more the fog dissipates and gives me a clear, straight view of what I need to write to reach the finish line. It’s a glorious and wonderful process, writing in a fog – and having it lift in the end is incredibly satisfying.


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