This, from Margaret Atwood: “Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light.” (From her book Negotiating with the Dead.)
Isn’t this true? When you begin working on an essay or a story or a poem, something is obscured, but you don’t necessarily know what. There can be an emptiness – a void, the sense of something unknown or unspoken, something felt but not fully expressed yet. And you work with it, around it, towards it. You dive down into the darkness, and find – or rather create – a pattern, a way of shedding light.
And if you go down there and come up with nothing, well, you just do it all again the next day, and the next … Diving and writing, writing and diving.