Like Sending a Bucket Down the Well

I never wrote a word that I didn’t hear as I read.
~     Eudora Welty


Familiarity. Memory of the way things get said. Once you have heard certain expressions, sentences, you almost never forget them. It’s like sending a bucket down the well and it always comes up full. You don’t know you’ve remembered, but you have. And you listen for the right word, in the present, and you hear it. Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply—what you overhear on a city bus is exactly what your character would say on the page you’re writing. Wherever you go, you meet part of your story. I guess you’re tuned in for it, and the right things are sort of magnetized—if you can think of your ears as magnets. I could hear someone saying—and I had to cut this out—”What, you never ate goat?” And someone answering, “Goat! Please don’t say you serve goat at this reunion. I wasn’t told it was goat I was served. I thought—” and so on, and then the recipe, and then it ended up with—I can’t remember exactly now—it ended with, “You can do a whole lot of things with vinegar.” Well, all these things I would just laugh about and think about for so long and put them in. And then I’d think, that’s just plain indulgence. Take it out! And I’d take it out.

~ Eudora Welty, quoted here


7 thoughts on “Like Sending a Bucket Down the Well

  1. Fantastic analogy, Kathy, and I must leave the link for this with a friend of mine who has featured a Martin Amis amis interview in which he pours cold water on ‘cliché’. Yet the familiar forms of words are just as it is said here: like sending a bucket down a well. Amazing excerpt. Thanks.


  2. Kate sent me around after the Martin Amis interview. I love this quote . . . and her indulgent joking about goat.

    Words are so magical ~ especially when expressed in just the right order.


  3. I love to read the quotes of other writers. So much rings true of our day to day writerly rigors. Leave it in ! Take it out! I should take it out but it seems so exquisite. Evidence of my brilliance? Get rid of it, you fool! And so on …


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