From an Interview with Terry Tempest Williams by Jana Bouck Remy (Irreanteum, 2002):
"I do not write every day," says Williams. "I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passion. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice.
"A small bowl of water sits on my desk," she continues, "a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room -- evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another.
"My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective the research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page through the scholarly work of art historians. When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery."
A little later in the interview, Remy asks: "How did you become a writer? In what ways do you think you've developed as a writer during the course of your career? Are there things you can do now that you don't think you could have pulled off successfully when you were first starting to write? What do you do to keep developing as a writer?"
"These are tough questions," Williams answers. "How does anyone 'become' a writer? You just write. I have always written, I have always kept a journal, always loved to read. Perhaps as writers we are really storytellers, finding that golden thread that connects us to the past, present, and future at once. I love language and landscape. For me writing is correspondence between these two passions.
"It is difficult to ever see yourself. I don't know how I've developed or grown as a writer. I hope I am continuing to take risks on the page. I hope I am continuing to ask the hard questions of myself. If we are attentive to the world and to those around us, I believe we will be attentive on the page. Writing is about presence. I want to be fully present wherever I am, alive to the pulse just beneath the skin."
Words: The quotes above are from "An Interview with Terry Tempest Williams" by Jana Bouck Remy (Irranteum, Summer 2002), reprinted in A Voice in the Wilderness, edited by Michael Austin (Utah State University Press, 2006). The poem in the picture captions is from Sixty Odd: New Poems by Ursula K. Le Guin (Shambhala, 1999). All rights reserved by the authors.
Pictures: Writing by the little stream on our hill, with the hound at my side. The water is low and green grass has turned gold aftter weeks of unusually dry weather. I'm loving the heat and sun, but the hills need rain.