What even is writing

I enter this hypothetical space and ask the question.

“What does writing want?”

It echoes off the walls pathetically. Everything’s white. The walls, the floor, the lights. Nothing responds; I expected it. There is a door — white — and I exit.

A table with a tablecloth and chairs on the porch of a house on Sunrise Boulevard in Newport in 2002. A figure with reddish-brown hair and white skin dotted with freckles sits there, carefully sinking a potato chip in french onion dip. The figure is less corporeal and more essential. Less mutable and more immutable. Edges are defined and not defined; edges are separate and integrated; edges are held together by nothing and all things. Edges are accompanied by the spectrum between.

“Hi,” she says, smiling. I don’t. “What does writing want?” falls out of my mouth faster than I anticipated. She frowns. “Please, sit down.” She hands me a potato chip. I sit down.

She looks at me, still frowning. “You don’t recognize me?” I shake my head. Dip, deposit. Between chews: “I recognize this, but not you.” “Why did you ask what writing wants?” I shrug. “Where have you been?” she asks. I shrug. “I don’t know.”

“I can’t tell you what writing wants because I don’t think anyone knows what writing is. That’s beside the point. I can’t tell you what writing wants because I can only tell you what your writing wants.”

I stop mid-deposit. The chip lowers. “What does that even mean?” I ask.

“Your writing is situated in time, space, and place. It is your past present physio-temporal situatedness, your psychosocial conditions. It is the way those two dimensions engage with one another, and how they cast off their separateness. Asking what writing wants assumes there is a non-physical, non-temporal, ethereal entity which can have its own desires. Any statements made in response to this question are, in actuality, a response to the question, ‘What does your writing want?’ Let me be clear: Your question is not without identity-related consequences; it is not transcendental. It is an institutional eraser which reduces everything to blank spaces.”

“God, you sound so pretentious,” I say. I continue eating my chip.


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