The ladder, she tells us, is neither immobile nor empty. Its climbers are secret; they have different voices. A common thread is this mysterious affinity. It has to do with their music and to find it they had to ascend downward, into the earth or the sea. Neither is easy. What matters is to learn from the dead.
Writing, she explains, is learning to die. If you listen, the dead man will give you the end of the world, and you can’t write anything until you start with losing a world.
The above are notes while re-reading the opening section of Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing (“The School of the Dead”), a beloved classic by Hélène Cixous.