photo of PatPatricia Stacey is an award-winning writer who has published in The Atlantic MonthlyThe New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan and various journals.  She is author of The Boy Who Loved Windows (Da Capo Press.)

What’s the most unexpected journey your art has taken?”

E.M. Forester famously asked, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” The notion that we really don’t know ourselves exactly, completely, until we begin to create art, is one of the guiding principles that keeps me working and keeps me confident that the emptiness of the pages is a promise and not a threat. Lao Tzu says that the part of the bowl that is most valuable to us is the part that is empty. Every time we move toward filling that blank space, we are moving both toward what we know and away from what we know.

Writing for me is like dreaming. I wake up afterwards and wonder what happened and who made it happen; all of it is unexpected. One day, while I was teaching some junior high school students how to use random characters and objects to create a story, I pulled two words out of a hat, hair dresser and razor. In that moment two characters came into being, a gay man and his lover who liked to shave people before he made love to them. In ways I never would have imagined, the novel that followed became an exploration into my past. I wrote about the Mexican cities my mother took me to when I was very young, obsession, and the inability we lovers have of reaching our passionate objects, which like the horizon have a way of melting backwards. I wrote about cowboys, chaparral near the ocean, a hacienda, and bathhouses. The story turned out to be a quilt containing all of me, but when I stepped back, it was a pattern that was wholly new.

From ArtSake: Unexpected Journeys in Art