"All my good writing comes out of vulnerability. The other stuff, the stuff that came from cleverness or vanity—I wish I could throw it all out. I am terribly vulnerable to nature and I love to fish. I have a favorite creek in western Colorado. There is so much excitement and loss—sometimes for the fish, if he is pan-sized; for me when he gets away. And the loss of the day as evening settles, and the quietness that allows many other losses to be remembered and felt. And beauty. And gratitude. And focus. Intense focus on moving water, which swirls and silvers and blackens and moves back on itself. On wind. As I focus on those, the circle of awareness somehow expands outward to take in the steep banks of dark spruce, their smell, a kingfisher, the flags of Spanish moss, the shoulders of the mountain upstream. Then I crack open. The whole world is in the circle with all of its heartbreak and beauty and I have cried while I fished and never been happier. Go figure. If I can’t fish I read the poets of the late Tang—Li Po, Wang Wei, Li Shang Yin. They can put me there in a moment, knee-deep in a stream, up in the tearing clouds of the mountains. They are aficionados of loss, and they make me feel vulnerable and stricken and full of joy. That is a good place to write from."
—Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars (Knopf, 2012)