“There is one thing I can do as well as ever — I can write,” Roger Ebert said yesterday. “When I am writing my problems become invisible and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.
“After my first stretch in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, I began to write again, a little. After my second, I returned to a nearly normal schedule. This spring during my third rehab, I was able to log onto a wi-fi network and begin writing much more. This year, which has included two major surgeries, I have so far written 170 reviews, 22 Answer Man columns, 28 Great Movie essays (not all yet published), and 37 blog entries.
“In May, I began to sense a change going on. At first it was subjective. This autumn it has become undeniable. My writing has improved.
“By that I don’t mean it’s objectively better from the reader’s point of view. I mean it has expanded within my mind, reaches deeper, emerges more clearly, is more satisfactory. Sometimes I glory in it — not the quality of the prose, but the quality of the experience. I find myself writing more, because I will return to that zone longer.
“I take dictation from that place within my mind that knows what to say. I think most good writers do. There is no such thing as waiting for inspiration. The idea of ‘diagramming’ an essay in advance, as we are taught in school, may be useful to students but is foolishness for any practicing writer. The Muse visits during the process of creation, not before.”