“What a story is, is devious. It pretends transparency, forthrightness. It engages with ordinary people, ordinary matters, recognizable stuff. But this is all a masquerade. What good stories deal with is the horror and incomprehensibility of time, the dark encroachment of old catastrophes…”—Joy Williams (via mttbll)
All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary All of this is temporary
“I’m searching, I’m searching. I’m trying to understand. Trying to give what I’ve lived to somebody else and I don’t know to whom, but I don’t want to keep what I lived. I don’t know what to do with what I lived, I’m afraid of that profound disorder. I don’t trust what happened to me.”—The PASSION according to G. H.
“for the love of oceans, move from your own heart and gut! all the "they’s" out there will steer you right off the god damn road if you let them…YOU ALREADY ARE THE BEAUTIFUL KNOWLEDGE. advice is nice but jeeeeeeez. don’t let them take you on some dumb RIDE…promise? i mean it! swear it! collaboration is as far as any "other" voice gets in for me. if it isn’t collaboration, it’s someone trying to jack your car.”— Lidia Yuknavitch
“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
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)
“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
"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)
“The thing that is both known and unknown, the most unknown and the best unknown, this is what we are looking for when we write. We go toward the best known unknown thing, where knowing and not knowing touch, where we hope we will know what is unknown. Where we hope we will not be afraid of understanding the incomprehensible, facing the invisible, hearing the inaudible, thinking the unthinkable, which is of course: thinking.”—THREE STEPS ON THE LADDER OF WRITING
“An honorable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
”—― Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“One writes out of one thing only — one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.”—James Baldwin (via observando)
“There is so little to remember of anyone - an anecdote, a conversation at a table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming habitual fondness not having meant to keep us waiting long.”—Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (via nineteencigarettes)
“…the composition of each epoch depends upon the way the frequented roads are frequented, people remain the same, the way their roads are frequented is what changes from one century to another….”—Gertrude Stein
“…all artists have some inclination, to greater or lesser degrees, to play it safe. I occasionally fight this feeling in myself, and I will be the first to admit that it’s cowardice, pure and simple. You think, well, if I don’t entirely commit, I can’t entirely fail. If I hold something back, I am protecting myself (if/when other people don’t like it). This is literally the opposite of the truth. When you hold things back, when you don’t commit completely to your ideas and trust completely in your own instincts, you are guaranteeing your own failure—even if you end up having commercial success. You have got to trust yourself and only yourself, and while of course you have to trust your intellect, you have got to trust your instincts even more, which are always more artistically pure than your conscious thoughts. Of course, the vast majority of artists do not do this at all. They say the same shit everyone else does, they write what’s fashionable, they write what they know will be approved of (even if it looks "experimental" on the surface). In short, they let themselves be lead by their critics and by their contemporaries. What a pointless fucking existence. Succeeding at this, or at any art, is about the hardest thing a human can do. But taking the coward’s way out not only leads to bad art; it’s habit forming. It becomes the way you approach life.”—
Phillip Meyer in conversation with Smith Henderson
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
”—Happy birthday, Walt Whitman. SOUTH JERSEY FOREVER (via notnadia)
“…in a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.”—Louise Bogan, A Poet’s Alphabet, McGraw Hill 1970, pg. 429
“The art of storytelling is not limited to mere journalism. In fact, it revels in the improbable and the unexpected, even as its focus remains on the real.”—Robert Coover discusses his story in this week’s issue: http://nyr.kr/1l4IVgS (via newyorker)