“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ~ Ray Bradbury
I have always believed writing chooses you, rather than the other way around.
You are either compelled to write, or not.
No sane person would willingly choose the loneliness, rejection, crippling self doubt and relative poverty that are part and parcel of the writing life. The rewards must come from the creative act itself, from having made sense out of chaos if even for a fleeting moment.
Given that you absolutely cannot help yourself — that you must write to feel alive — you simply go about setting down one word after another after another every single day, while battling your inner demons and that pesky inner editor.
This is a challenge well met; there is nothing more satisfying than the feeling of “having written” — a page once blank now filled with “the beatings of your heart.”
While writing anything of value can give you a good run for your money, I find all the “other stuff” — outside perception, judgment, dismissiveness — the most difficult to deal with. Yes, it comes with the territory, but it often gives me pause: How much do I really want this? What price am I willing to pay?
FOR THE YOUNG WHO WANT TO
by Marge Piercy
Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.
Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.
Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.
The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms
is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re a certified dentist.
The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.
~ from Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982).
It is harder these days to concentrate, harder to justify practicing your art when seemingly larger, more urgent actions beckon. But writing, too, is an act of resistance, a way to peacefully protest the dark forces who would stifle free expression.
Let us remain drunk on words, filling every waking moment with attempts to fashion ideas into garments of truth. As vessels of beauty, inspiration, healing, compassion, inclusion, freedom, power, and above all, love, words do matter — now more than ever.
When it’s hard to write, write harder.
When it’s hard to love, love harder.
“The underlying reason for writing is to bridge the gulf between one person and another.” ~ W.H. Auden
“I believe that art saves. I believe that artists are the last line of defense. I believe we speak the truth we believe, regardless of polls or economics.” ~ Janis Ian
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” ~ Albert Camus
🌼 🌸 Keep the Faith. Focus. Write On! 🌸🌼
Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.