Who knows where the ideas come from? Who knows what happens in that shadowy part of the mind, something between Plato’s cave and Maeterlinck’s Hall of Night, where the creative imagination hides? Who knows even where the words come from, the right rhythm and meaning and music all at once? Those of us who make books out of the words and ideas have less of an answer than anyone. All we know is that marvelous feeling that comes, sometimes, like a break of sunshine in a cloud-grey sky, when through all the research and concentration and slog—suddenly you are writing, fluently and fast, with every sense at high pitch and yet in a state almost like trance. Suddenly, for a time, the door is open, the magic is working; a channel exists between the page and that shadowy cave in the mind.
From Susan Cooper, “Seeing Around Corners” (1976); reproduced in Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children (1996).