Tempted By the Quote of Another

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.” Rilke 

“The theme of art is the theme of life itself. This artificial distinction between artists and human beings is precisely what we are all suffering from. An artist is only someone unrolling and digging out and excavating the areas normally accessible to normal people everywhere, and exhibiting them as a sort of scarecrow to show people what can be done with themselves.” Lawrence Durrell

“Allowing space for change is allowing space for grace. That’s what I get from good writing.  I have nothing to say that will change anybody’s mind. Nothing. Being didactic is uninteresting. But allowing space for people to remake their minds about things, to change—or to get angry—is a viable literary purpose. That I fail at this over and over is my reason to continue. Failure is edifying. We break the lights.” Colum McCann

Keats said, “I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of imagination.”

“Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say “Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…”, you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.” Ray Bradbury 

“The waking mind, you see, is the least serviceable in the arts. In the process of writing one is struggling to bring out what is unknown to himself. To put down merely what one is conscious of means nothing, really, gets one nowhere. Anybody can do that with a little practice, anybody can become that kind of writer.”  Henry Miller 

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song.” Plato   

“I keep thinking about writing another long piece of fiction. Then I lose heart because fiction has to have some fight in it. By which I mean it shouldn’t be smooth as a tube to glide along. Imagination is an interruption; it interrupts repetitive thinking, predictable thinking. It jolts the mind. Trouble is, the mind likes what it knows. It enjoys a cheap thrill, sure, but it likes what it knows. A real challenge is never just about content; it is some stranger way of seeing the world.” Jeanette Winterson

“Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.” Einstein

“Of all the arts, fiction is the most powerful, since, with no materials other than a pen and paper, a writer can convince a reader that a man has changed into a monstrous vermin.” Will Self

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Past Justification

Why is it a writer can go into a pub, and come out a drunk?

I opened my front door today and I found this sad and dejected thing sleeping on the porch: a fragile fiction.

You know what I’m talking about, right? These days (and they are adding up) there’s so much happening to reading, books, publishing. It’s all in turmoil and change and it’s so damn hard to keep track of who knows what and what knows who.

I feel like I’m in my foxhole, and so is every other writer out there. And it’s cold and wet in the hole. And each time I pop my head out, I’m afraid some crazy writer with a penchant for violence and guns is going to ask me what the hell is going on.

But I don’t have any answers. I just surface from my foxhole because I want to watch the sun rise, the sun set.

To change the metaphor; it’s a sea of shit out there in the publishing world, so be careful what you lunge for.

Which doesn’t mean I’m simply jaded and pessimistic. In fact, the opposite. Writing is how I engage with the world and I love all the bruises and the punches and the let-downs. Just makes me get up and go back for more. Because for me there is no other art that can contain as much human experience as writing. So I will write as the shit sea laps over my coracle.

You’ve got to fight back. You’ve got to start tossing your handbag (quaint English tradition of having a spat). And mostly with yourself. Because you have to keep reminding yourself: “I am going to keep doing this. I cannot be stopped.”

So, you know what I did with that fragile fiction that found its way to my door. I kicked it. I roughed it up. I sent it packing with its tail between its legs.

Rilke said that art can come only out of inner necessity.

To me that sounds like a rallying cry to write — because I must!

“Allowing space for change is allowing space for grace. That’s what I get from good writing.  I have nothing to say that will change anybody’s mind. Nothing. Being didactic is uninteresting. But allowing space for people to remake their minds about things, to change—or to get angry—is a viable literary purpose. That I fail at this over and over is my reason to continue. Failure is edifying. We break the lights.” Colum McCann