THE WATCHER AT THE GATE by Gail Godwin I first realized I was not...

           I first realized I was not the only writer who had a restraining critic who lived inside me and sapped the juice from green inspirations when I was leafing through Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams" a few years ago.  Ironically, it was my "inner critic" who had sent me to Freud.  I was writing a novel, and my heroine was in the middle of a dream, and then I lost faith in my own invention and rushed to "an authority" to check whether she could have such a dream.  In the chapter on dream interpretation, I came upon the following passage that has helped me free myself, in some measure, from my critic and has led to many pleasant and interesting exchanges with other writers.
            Freud quotes Schiller, who is writing a letter to a friend.  The friend complains of his lack of creative power.  Schiller replies with an allegory.  He says it is not good if the intellect examines too closely the ideas pouring in at the gates.  "In isolation, an idea may be quite insignificant, and venturesome in the extreme, but it may acquire importance from an idea which follows it. . . . In the case of a creative mind, it seems to me, the intellect has withdrawn its watchers from the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell, and only then does it review and inspect the multitude.  You are ashamed or afraid of the momentary and passing madness which is found in all real creators, the longer or shorter duration of which distinguishes the thinking artist from the dreamer. . . . You reject too soon and discriminate too severely."
            So that's what I had:  a Watcher at the Gates.  I decided to get to know him better.  I discussed him with other writers, who told me some of the quirks and habits of their Watchers,each of whom was as individual as his host, and all of whom seemed passionately dedicated to one goal:  rejecting too soon and discriminating too severely.
            It is amazing the lengths a Watcher will go to keep you from pursuing the flow of your imagination.  Watchers are notorious pencil sharpeners, ribbon changes, plant waterers, home repairers and abhorrers of messy rooms or messy pages.  They are compulsive looker-uppers.  They are superstitious scaredy-cats.  They cultivate self-important eccentricities they think are suitable for "writers."  And they'd rather die (and kill your inspiration with them) than risk making a fool of themselves.
            My Watcher has a wasteful penchant for 20-pound bond paper above and below the carbon of the first draft.   "What's the good of writing out a whole page," he whispers begrudgingly, "if you just have to write it over again later?  Get it perfect the first time!"  MyWatcher adores stopping in the middle of a morning's work to drive down to the library to check on the name of a flower or a World War II battle or a line of metaphysical poetry.  "You can't possibly go on till you've got this right!" he admonishes.  I go and get the car keys.
             Other Watchers have informed their writers that:  

This 2-page analysis essay will be typed using Times New Roman 12 font and standard margins and double spaced. 
There are three main areas to focus on in your Analysis.


The introduction presents the relevance/importance of the work you have chosen, and may:
• Offer a brief background of the work, 
o Author(s) (birth/death/other briefs, interesting, relevant facts, as they pertain to the story)
o Name of work(s)
o Year(s) of publication/historical context
• Offer a brief summary of the entire work (no more than three sentences)
• Offer your thesis (the claim you are focusing on, the direction you are taking, the argument you are making—your topic + how it affects a person/people/humanity)

The body is the heart of the analysis, and will:
• Present examples from the text and discuss their meaning to illustrate and back up your thesis
• Explore larger themes in the work
• Examine historical/contextual meaning
• Analyze the work in terms of questions it poses / arguments it makes


The conclusion is where you can examine the work from a "big picture" point of view, so you should:
• Discuss what specifically makes the work powerful, in a larger context
• Discuss the work's larger place in society/culture
• Discuss what others can hope to take away from the work if they read it
Of course, your interest will spark your topic choice, and the introduction of the work, the development of the paper, and the conclusion you draw will be based upon your interpretation of the work.

Answer & Explanation
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