“My best thinking is done following the map of my mind on the page.”
Eva Saulitis, On Writing the Book-Length Memoir
“…An essay arises out of a question, and that question is a variation of the question at the heart of every creative work, short or long: what does this mean? What does it mean that there’s a creature called a wolverine on this planet? What does it mean to get cancer? What does it mean to lose a child? What does hate mean? An essay is a map of the trail a writer takes in pursuing her question. The question is unanswerable, or it has a myriad of correct answers. Or its answer is “none of the above.” A mind following such a map to its edge, to where the map ends, is a mind changed in the process, and that’s what the essay records. So I started with a question.
The question at the heart of Into Great Silence was “What does it mean that the Chugach transient orcas, the animals I have been studying for half my life, are going extinct? How can I possibly live with this? Can I personalize this extinction so a reader understands on a gut level what we’re facing? Takes personally the fact that we exist in what some call a new age of extinctions? Can I turn a scientific study into art? And can I do this without my book being a total downer? You can see already questions generating more questions, which is what happens both in literature and in science…”
Read her full piece at 49 Writers