Joel Christiansen

Robert Caro: Thinking With Your Fingers

August 25, 2020
Robert Caro, Working, 2019:

We had to write a short story every two weeks, and I was always doing mine at the very last minute; I seem to recall more than one all-nighter to get my assignment in on time. Yet Professor Blackmur was, as I recall, complimentary about my work, and I thought I was fooling him about the amount of preparation and effort I put into it. At that final meeting, however, after first saying something generous about my writing, he added, 'But you’re never going to achieve what you want to, Mr. Caro, if you don’t stop thinking with your fingers.'

'Thinking with your fingers.' Every so often, do you get the feeling that someone has seen right through you? In that moment, I knew Professor Blackmur had seen right through me. No real thought, just writing—because writing was so easy. Certainly never thinking anything all the way through.