Chris J. Rice

The world is full of stories, and from time to time they permit themselves to be told.
Old Cherokee Saying

Yet the noble despair of the poets
Is nothing of the sort; it is silly
To refuse the tasks of time
And, overlooking our lives,
Cry – “Miserable wicked me,
How interesting I am.”
We would rather be ruined than changed,
We would rather die in dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.

—From
W.H. Auden’s
The Age of Anxiety

I knew that if I tried to write a novel in chronological order, I was going to get bogged down in the litany of ‘then this happened, then this happened, then this happened.’ I think that’s my failing. As a writer I have difficulty sustaining interest in plot when it unfolds in so linear a way. So I made a very conscious decision, saying to myself, “Why don’t I give it away? And then I’m not stuck with the burden of the chronology.” I also had a feeling—and this developed later—that I wasn’t going to be able to pull off a surprise ending. So again, I thought removing any attempt at that would help me.

—Robin Black (via mttbll)

(Source: fictionwritersreview.com, via mttbll)

If I could go back, I’d coach myself. I’d be the woman who taught me how to stand up, how to want things, how to ask for them. I’d be the woman who says, your mind, your imagination, they are everything. Look how beautiful. You deserve to sit at the table. The radiance falls on all of us.

—― Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

Truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

—RIP Nadine Gordimer, author and Nobel Prize winner.

"You stand there with your skill, patience, and something even more unique- and you feel alone. It is a critical point in your life; you are afraid, yet you want to go ahead and do it. Certainly the odds are against you. Most of the critics…, are concerned with …art trends, ‘forms’, marketing. Most of them wouldn’t recognize a low tone, subtle, and warm piece of wood if they saw it.

People will buy second and third hand imitations, the current overstatement, the by-the-roadside-charming. They don’t want your quiet, out-of-place message. They are not prepared for it because that sort of thing belies their whole way of living,

…most good craftsmen work by themselves doing all their own work. So if you are a loner, you and your work are different from most. Accept that, and be glad. Either you are the competitive, speculating sort, or you’re not. And if you aren’t, then turn this fact into an asset; it can be the greatest asset of all. Realizing it helps you to stop being afraid, and allows you to be proud of living with what you do best.

Stick to what you believe in; go into the work and listen. Forget about competition. Find a pace and a balance that make sense out of long hours.

Try to reach the level where there is no competitor except excellence itself.”

—James Krenov craft wisdom, 4: Forget about competition
May 19, 2011
Continuing quotes on the craft life from ‘A Cabinet Maker’s Notebook’

A friend and I had a discussion about my way of composing, and his. He was a journalist who wrote non-fiction exclusively. He found it strange that my way was to see the people, places, and events as I wrote about them. He said he always saw only the words on paper—screen now—with no visual equivalent. This is perhaps why the reader feels there—because of this approach, the reader is not so much looking at words but moving pictures.

—David Ohle (via mttbll)

There is a fairy story about the prince and the black stones. On top of a crystal mountain is a princess, i.e., the thing of highest worth, the thing desired. The prince, the hero, the questing self, wants to get to the princess, the thing of highest worth. He starts to climb the mountain, which is crystal and therefore extremely slippery, difficult. On the way, he does all right for a bit. Then these black stones in his path start to speak and they say, You are a fool. Why are you going up this mountain? You will never get to the top. In any case when you get to the top it won’t be worth it, there is nothing there. Or, You’re going to die of thirst, you’re going to die of hunger. This continues all the way up; he becomes more and more depressed, and he thinks, I will never, never get to the top. Then, of course, eventually the hero does get to the top and frees the princess. He looks back and realizes that the black stones were the souls of all the people who had failed before and therefore didn’t want anyone else to succeed, because the only thing that justified them was their own failure. That’s a useful story if you are a writer, because the way is full of black stones. All you know is that there is this thing of highest value, of great worth, that you want to keep trying to achieve. Every time, up the slippery rock, with no sense of being able to get there, you simply have to stuff your ears and keep climbing.

—Jeanette Winterson, The Art of Fiction No. 150
Interviewed by Audrey Bilger

Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don’t like—then cultivate it. That’s the only part of your work that’s individual and worth keeping.

—Jean Cocteau (via mttbll)