Virginia Woolf once began a diary entry by saying that the day had been dreary and that nothing happened. Then she reproached herself: this was no way for a writer to treat even a day on which nothing seemed to happen. She compared such days to trees in winter. The glory of the tree, the leaves, have fallen, and all that is left are bare branches and the trunk. One tends not to see the tree, then. And yet it is in this state that you can most see the tree, its growth against the damage of insect, lightning strike, impoverished soil, and weather – in short, what it had become.
I think that is a rather brilliant comparison, even though writing for others is all about brilliant and hyperreal days, where the criminal is escaping the police, where the adulterous love affair begins to germinate at the party, where Madame Bovary takes poison and spontaneous cumbustion claims the ragman. But the forest in which these events take place is vast, and consists of dreary or happy days where nothing happened, and nobody looked.
I like the fact that Woolf knew that is exactly where she should look.