On Certain Brisk, Bright Days by Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin

On Certain Brisk, Bright Days, an essay by American author Kate Chopin, was originally published in the St. Louis Dispatch in November 1899. It was the same year her now-classic novella The Awakening was published.

In her analysis of this novella on this site, Sarah Wyman writes that it “came under immediate attack when published and was banned from bookstores and libraries.

The author died virtually forgotten, yet The Awakening has been rediscovered and holds a secure and prominent position as a watershed text in U.S. literature and feminist studies.” Despite the initial negative initial reaction to her novella, Kate Chopin created this cheery description of her writing life:

 

On certain brisk, bright days

On certain brisk, bright days I like to walk from my home, near Thirty-Fourth Street, down to the shopping district. After a few such experiments I begin to fancy that I have the walking habit. Doubtless I convey the same impression to acquaintances who see me from the car window “hot footing” it down Olive Street or Washington Avenue. But in my subconscious … I know that I have not the walking habit.

Eight or nine years ago I began to write stories — short stories which appeared in the magazines, and I forthwith began to suspect I had the writing habit. The public shared this impression, and called me an author. Since then, though I have written many short stories and a novel or two, I am forced to admit that I have not the writing habit. But it is hard to make people with the questioning habit believe this.

“Now where, when, why, what do your write?” are some of the questions that I remember. How do I write? On a lapboard with a block of paper, a stub of pen and a bottle of ink bought at the corner grocery, which keeps the best in town.

. . . . . . . . .

The awakening by Kate Chopin cover

Willa Cather’s 1899 review of The Awakening
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Where

Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue.

 

When

When do I write? I am greatly tempted here to use slang and reply “any old time,” bet that would lend a tone of levity to this bit of confidence, whose seriousness I want to keep intact if possible.

So I shall say I write in the morning, when not too strongly drawn to struggle with the intricacies of a pattern, and in the afternoon, if the temptation to try a new furniture polish on an old table leg is not too powerful to be denied; sometimes at night, though as I grow older I am more and more inclined to believe that night was made for sleep.

 

Why

“Why do I write?” is a question I have often asked myself and never very satisfactorily answered. Story-writing — at least with me — is the spontaneous expression of impressions gathered goodness knows where. To seek the source, the impulse of a story is like tearing a flower to pieces for wantonness.

. . . . . . . . .

Kate Chopin

Influential Quotes by Kate Chopin
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What

What do I write? Well, not everything that comes into my head, but much of what I have written lies between the covers of my books. There are stories that seem to write themselves, and other which positively refuse to be written — which no amount of coaxing can bring to anything.

The “material” of a writer is to the last degree uncertain, and I fear not marketable … I am completely at the mercy of unconscious selection. To such an extent this is true, that what is cooled the polishing up process has always proved disastrous to my work, and I avoid it, preferring the integrity of crudities to artificialities.

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Kate Chopin

Learn more about Kate Chopin

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