I’m happy when I’m alone in a room and inventing. More than a commitment to the art or to the craft, which I am devoted to, it is a commitment to being alone in a room. I continue to have this ritual, believing that what I am doing now will one day be published, legitimizing my daydreams. I need solitary hours at a desk with good paper and a fountain pen like some people need a pill for their health. I am committed to these rituals.
Finally, I think of things for years. I may have ideas and then I tell them to my close friends. I keep lots of notebooks for possible novels I may write. Sometimes I don’t write them, but if I open a notebook and begin taking notes for it, it is likely that I will write that novel. So when I’m finishing one novel my heart may be set on one of these projects; and two months after finishing one I start writing the other. —The Paris Review
[Anna] Akhmatova used to say, ’ When I was young I loved architecture and water. Now I love the earth and music.’
Becoming Susan Sontag (3)
— Moreover, a journal is under no obligation to be consistent either in its form or purposes. We cannot know what it is that a journal actually reflects, generally or at any given moment—how transient or deep the author’s impulse, how exact, how distorted…what function the enterprise is serving. Obviously a journal mirrors no one but its author, but a mirror reflects largely what we instruct it to.
In fact, Sontag was interested in experience, which spills over the confines of most academic categories. And it seems reasonable to say that her real, though not explicitly stated, objective—and eventual achievement—was to develop the ability to synthesize many sorts of information, in order to make the meaningful imaginative leap.
Among the entries are also lists of books to be read and words to be learned or contemplated, lists of things to be done and things not to be done, mentions of areas of history to become acquainted with, the odd aperçu, general reflections, and whole meadows of quotations. We see rudiments of ideas which years later expand into essays, and we see aspects of the author—and the author’s view of herself—that there certainly would be no other way to see.
Deborah Eisenberg, “Becoming Susan Sontag,” The New York Review of Books