Joan Didion, for all her complexities, continues to have… a moment? No, it’s too extended for that. And she was too anxious, too awkward for it. Still, it’s happening: even though she died last year, her words keep coming. Even her stuff keeps coming.
I loved this explanation of hers, from a talk (via Lithub) that’s in her book released earlier this year.
During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forged papers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer. By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.
It’s those obsessions that shape what we are, really. Underneath we’re the nouns, not the adjectives.