It never happens like that

Heidi-Julavits
What I failed to mention, however, was my recent worry: As a writer, I have mistaken how to use words. I write too much. I write like some people talk to fill silence. When I write, I am trying through the movement of my fingers to reach my head. I’m trying to build a word ladder up to my brain. Eventually these words, help me come to an idea, and then I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite what I’d already written (when I had no idea what I was writing about) until the path of thinking, in retrospect, feels immediate. What’s on the page appears to have busted out of my head and traveled down my arms and through my fingers and my keyboard and coalesced on the screen. But it didn’t happen like that; it never happens like that.

~ Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary


Notes: Author Bio: Heidi Julavits.  Photo: Bustle.com

Here it is. The Beacon. For us. The Amateurs.

write-writing-black-and-white

A paragraph from Lucas’ first chapter, “The Value of Style,” will suffice to render his point of view, with its fine sense of perspective and proportion, plain: It is unlikely that many of us will be famous, or even remembered. But not less important than the brilliant few that lead a nation or a literature to fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its “stars.”

~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays


Photo: Lachlan von Nubia

 

Where am I heading?

photography,portrait,

It’s incredible how one runs about frantically at times like a rat in a maze, not really knowing right from wrong (and often really not caring), victim of one’s own passions and instincts rather than master of one’s own soul. I suppose the proper thing to do is just to stop every now and then and say, Where am I heading? Actually, though I’m still much like the psychologist’s rat, I find myself asking myself that question almost too often. I suppose the very fact that I realize my indulgence in too much introspection is another sign (I hope) of maturity. Too much brooding is unhealthy and, although I still have my slumps, I’ve begun to realize that one of the great secrets is striking a balance between thought and action… Living, acting, thinking; not just vegetating neurotically, on one hand, or blundering about, on the other hand, like so many people do, like trapped flies. It’s a hard balance to strike, but I think it can be done, and that in this exciting-sorrowful age of ours it can make great literature.

~ William Styron, 1967 Pulitzer Prize winner, in a letter to his Father in 1949


Quote Source: Brainpickings. Photo: ei-ka-dan

This blog is my boat

woman-mist-peace-acceptance

this blog is my boat, these words are my oars, and there’s a storm in the distance that will take them all apart.  i will be fine.  if i can’t find a piece of a word to hold me up, and in truth that’s asking a lot of some vowels and consonants – not their job, after all – i will float on my back, face against the rain.  it won’t last forever.  the boat may sink, but that has nothing to do with me.  i am free.  gone with the rain.

d smith kaich jones


Credits: Photo – Vanni Jung Ståhle via mpd. Quote – Thank you Make Believe Boutique

SMWI*: Your morning, your noon and night


They say this far and not further
They draw lines and call it the limit
They tell you dreamers can’t be doers
And that every Road has been walked before
But when it is what every fibre of your being craves
When it is your all
Your Morning, Your Noon, and Night
When it is what frustrates you
And rewards you
When it is what you fight for
What you lose sleep and sometimes your mind for
When it is the very fire within you
When it is your greatest strength
And your one weakness
When it born not of need
Not even of desire
But of raw passion
How can it ever be enough?
How can there ever be an end?
They say the sky is the limit
Little do they know
You don’t stop at the limit
You start from it.
Born of Passion


SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration

 

30 years. 1 stop. Bravo!

Lucy-Kellaway

Lucy Kellaway’s Thirtieth Anniversary, Financial Times:

For the past 30 years I have been pitching up to work at the same place, week in, week out, interrupted only by a succession of maternity leaves – all of which are now in the distant past…There is something mildly shameful about being almost the longest-serving journalist on the newspaper…

But last Thursday I cycled into work in the early morning sun, making a journey I’ve made many thousands of times before, and as I passed St Paul’s Cathedral I found myself feeling not only unstale, but borderline joyful… When I got to the office on impulse I fired off an email to the entire newspaper inviting them to eat cake with me that very afternoon – and soliciting reflections on what 30 years’ service means.

Loyalty – mixed with stupidity, one colleague replied. Wrong, I thought…

Narrow, suggested another…

A third colleague, also a long-timer, complained that staying in the same place meant getting dragged down by politics and that old grievances fester. Possibly; though I see it the other way round. Long service has cut me adrift from politics and has meant I don’t have to waste time working out who is trustworthy and who isn’t, as I know that already. [Read more…]

Salieri. It is not up to you whether you fly or fall.

amadeus-salieri

In Mozart’s music, Salieri recognizes something divinely inspired, absolute, and perfect. But what he hears ruins him. Confronted by this beauty beyond his ability to achieve, Salieri suffers his own talent and success in agony. “Thirty years of being called ‘distinguished’ by people incapable of distinguishing!” he cries, as the Viennese cheer him, while casually disregarding the genius in their midst. “If I cannot be Mozart then I do not wish to be anything.” He gets his wish. Mozart is posthumously declared immortal, and Salieri, still alive, is utterly forgotten, the patron saint of the undistinguished. In his last line, the old, discarded court composer addresses the modern audience directly, all those who, like him, are not worth listening to. “Mediocrities everywhere—now and to come—I absolve you all,” he says, sympathizing with our failure to be Mozart. […]

The Salieri that Shaffer created hears with the ears of history; he knows all along what only later listeners could know. When Mozart arrived in Vienna in 1781, his talent was obvious and undeniable, but his genius was still a matter of opinion. He wasn’t yet Mozart. Peter Shaffer stacked the deck against Salieri by giving his self-doubts the weight of historical certainty. Because Salieri knows Mozart is a genius, his own failure then seems inevitable. But the real weight that he and every artist—every person who strives for greatness—suffers is the weight of not knowing. You must find in yourself the courage to leap off the cliff. Yet it is not up to you whether you fly or fall.

~ Glen Kurtz, Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music


Image Credit: vjmorton

 

Floated down the milk river

milk

For months the baby woke at seven, fed, fell asleep at eight thirty, woke at ten, fed, fell asleep at eleven thirty, and so on for the rest of the day. I’d made him into a milk clock. Every hour was part of a ritualized ceremony of adding or subtracting milk. A river of milk flowed in and out and around him. He floated down the milk river toward the rest of life.

~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Notes:

More Manguso Memories

sarah-manguso

After yesterday’s post introducing Sarah Manguso in Manguso Magnificent, we’re back with more.

Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary:

I assumed that maximizing the breadth and depth of my autobiographical memory would be good for me, force me to write and live with greater care, but in the last thing one writer ever published, when he was almost ninety years old, he wrote a terrible warning. He said he’d liked remembering almost as much as he’d liked living but that in his old age , if he indulged in certain nostalgias, he would get lost in his memories. He’d have to wander them all night until morning. He responded to my fan letter when he was ninety. When he was ninety-one, he died. I just wanted to retain the whole memory of my life, to control the itinerary of my visitations , and to forget what I wanted to forget. Good luck with that, whispered the dead. 

And here:

The least contaminated memory might exist in the brain of a patient with amnesia— in the brain of someone who cannot contaminate it by remembering it. With each recollection, the memory of it further degrades. The memory and maybe the fact of every kiss start disappearing the moment the two mouths part.

[Read more…]

You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit.

John-Steinbeck

We read many books.

Some stand out, way ahead from the others.

I listed my Top 11 in a posted titled Books, Books, Books back in 2012. Is it possible to even have a Top 5, or a Top 10 or Top 100 top books list?

Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Grapes of Wrath, was #1 on my short list.

Steinbeck kept a diary while he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. It was published as “Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.”

Maria Popova wrote a must-read post yesterday titled: How Steinbeck Used The Diary as a Tool of Discipline where she describes the book as a “remarkable living record of his creative journey, in which this extraordinary writer tussles with excruciating self-doubt but plows forward anyway, with equal parts gusto and grist, driven by the dogged determination to do his best…his daily journaling becomes a practice both redemptive and transcendent.”  Here’s a Steinbeck quote from the post:

I don’t know whether I could write a decent book now. That is the greatest fear of all. I’m working at it but I can’t tell. Something is poisoned in me. You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit. Maybe I can get these fears and disgusts on you and then burn you up. Then maybe I won’t be so haunted. Have to pretend it’s that way anyhow.

I reflected on Steinbeck’s thoughts. Two conclusions came to mind.

1) Steinbeck had doubt. Me and Steinbeck. SympaticoMisery loves company.

2) Steinbeck had doubt. Steinbeck, STEINBECK, had doubt. I don’t stand a chance.

If you are writing, building or creating anything and have doubts, this post is worth your time: Don’t miss: How Steinbeck Used TheDiary as a Tool of Discipline.

And yes, I bought the book.


Photo: Vivandlarry.com