• Chapter 1 begins with the metaphoric suggestion that a piece of writing is a line of words that a writer follows to its end.
• Dillard comments on how long it generally takes "serious" writers to complete "serious" novels, suggesting the process can (should?) take at least two years, if not longer.
• Dillard discusses the necessity of allowing the line of words to follow its own path, referring to the helplessness (and occasional resentment) of writers who resist following the line where it seems to be heading.
• Dillard likens the following of the line of words to connecting with the beating of the heart, and with the exploration of personal wounds.
• Dillard compares the work of a shoe salesman with the work of a writer.
• Dillard, Chapter 2, describes the studio in which she was currently working, a small shed in the woods, set away from her house.
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