We’re supposed to take it easy this weekend, right? So instead of writing something, I decided to steal–I mean share–some of my favorite recent quotes on writing. You can find many more on the Poets and Writers blog, poetsandwriters.tumblr.com
Enjoy, and happy chilling!
From Sarah Manguso’s “Advice to Young Writers”:
Once you’ve truly begun, slow down. The difference between publishing two good books and forty mediocre books is terribly large. Don’t expend energy in writing and publishing that would be better used in your family or community. Become tempered by life. Make compromises for love. ..
From Joy Castro’s “Getting Lost”:
Writing povides a way to make sense, in language, of the puzzling, wild, beautiful moments our life keeps delivering to us. Here, whispers life, figure this one out.”
From Zadie Smith, whose new novel “NW” is just out:
It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself. This is hard to do alone. I gather sentences around me, quotations, the literary equivalent of a cheerleading squad.
Give me a W! Give me an R! Give me…oh never mind. Go back to that lovely hammock and take a nice nap.
This week I’m just posting a little piece I did on why I’m glad I’m not an Olympic athlete. (I knew you were all wondering about that). It’s up this week on the lovely blog I contribute to occasionally: www.fromthemixedupfiles.org
…I got up very early to try and do some writing before the fun began.
…my refrigerator was forested with strange and wonderful containers labeled hemp milk, ginger beer, Kombucha and Activate
…I ran out of towels.
…every cute thing our cats did was captured on a cell phone camera.
…I went to the beach where the water was warmer than the air and the seagulls clustered and stared out at the lake like p.o.’d commuters watching for their bus.
…I had many, many conversations about careers
…not necessarily in that order and sometimes simultaneously.
…I watched a baffling and moving film called “The Belly of the Architect”.
…I listened to lots of music whose lyrics escaped me.
…I went to a 5k race and cheered as wildly as I did at high school meets ten plus years ago.
…I ate roasted Spanish cod with almond mayonaise and drank really, really good Prosecco.
…I tried hard to make Cleveland seem like an exceedingly hip and attractive place.
…I was, at least half the time, steeling myself for goodbye.
…All three of my daughters were home at once.
But now this week is over.
My friend L (who for the moment must go by an initial only) just got a book deal. It’s a jaw-dropper. When she e-mailed me the news, the note began “Are you sitting down?” I was, but at the library where I was subbing, and it was all I could do not to start yelling, yelping and yodeling. As it was, I had to confine myself to spinning around in my desk chair.
L is one of those overnight sensations, after 30 years of working at the craft. She’s an editor, and for decades has toiled over other people’s words. Now she’s the Cincerella who, after tending and mending others’ evening clothes, gets to dance at the ball herself. I believe she’ll wear Teva sandals, though!
Though I’m getting old, I’m nowhere near the age where I should be burying friends, if such an age ever exists. But we just went to the memorial service of a friend who died suddenly at 55. Seth was a union organizer who improved the lives of countless families, and the place was packed to the ceiling with people wanting to pay tribute and tell Seth stories. On his desk he kept a quote from Chief Justice Earl Warren: “Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.” He was also father to two kids, one of whom told how when her goldfish Spotty died, Seth took him to work, promising he knew a guy who could resuscitate fish. And, astonishingly, Spotty returned home that night alive!
And just because I haven’t featured him lately, and because he is up there at the top of the furry feline friend pantheon, here is the beloved Habibi.
Tonight I’m hosting a dinner party for 17 guests, not all of whom I’ve met. I am trying not to channel The horror, the horror of Conrad (who, by the way, died on this date in 1924 at the horrifically young age of 66) but rather the giddy anticipation of Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. ..What a lark! What a plunge! (a novel published, by the way, the very next year, 1925)
Of course Clarissa Dalloway was not faced with the task of scraping cat fur from every soft surface of her house. And I will pick, rather than buy, those flowers. Obviously I am insane to be sitting here. Off I go, to slice like a knife through everything. But wait!
Must share this astonishing quote from “Splendors and Glooms”, a forthcoming novel by that magician Laura Amy Schlitz. At the heart of the story is an opal endowed with enormous mystical powers. An evil puppeteer (!) longs to possess it, but discovers he can’t steal it. Only a child on the brink of adulthood can. And why?
“For the child believes–everything! And he feels–everything! So much life, instinct, vital force–and then the first stirrings of adult desire. Everything is potent, volatile!”
It turns conventional wisdom upside down: children are the ones with the true power.