Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it–don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist–but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.
“In time, she seems less moved than a part of that which once moved her, fleeting, uncontained, her presence seen only in what she’s touched: leaves scattered and lost, bodies of dust swirling. She longs to find some calm within what she’s become, inside the sound, a roaming stillness. It seems so close, as if she might, even now, blink and be there, restored, prepared, whispering all she remembers.”
“All the thoughts without emotions, all memories without any attachment–my skin is loose and thin. I don’t speak at these times because I don’t know the girl that will form the words.” –Amy Jo
Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.
So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?
The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.)* There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.
–Hunter S. Thompson
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
―, Fear and Loathing in Las VegasRead More
So I came across a post at a blog I follow by Ryan Lanz called The Writer’s Path (excellent posts and advice, let me tell you–I don’t think he knows how many times I re-read his stuff). He does “Ten Quote Tuesdays” and I of course am late for it but I’m also going to take a different spin on it. There are inspirational quotes in the post on writing and then there are prompts; I have chosen to use one of the quotes as a prompt for a post.
I couldn’t decide between Viktor Frankl’s (amazing survivor and writer) “What is it to give life must endure burning.” Or Natalie Goldberg’s “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist. Don’t make it harder on yourself.”
So here goes my simple blog post, Ryan, on “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist. Don’t make it harder on yourself.”
My cousin Mike is on the phone, my lifelong best friend. He’s sculpting on the other end and I’m sitting here, smoking in front of a blank screen.
“Hey, Amos, just pull a Hemingway,” he sounds distracted but concerned–he can always do a lot at once.
“Meh, I don’t got enough meds left and there’s no 7up for the gin.”
“Well shit man, I started on my Shandy’s since noon, got this sculpture just about licked. Just get a couple drinks in ya, sit down, and just write. Just let it come to you.”
So I get off the phone, bust out the wine, feeling like less of an artist because I don’t have bourbon. I don’t even know what bourbon is. I set up my laptop on the living room coffee table, turn on my Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder album, and wait. And drink. And wait. Surely my demons will arise if I’m intoxicated, they’re here every other day of the week.
Before I know it my face is on fire and I’m quoting the lyrics from “Wild Horses” in an essay attempt to my sister,
...childhood living is easy to do…
of whom I’ve been having an on-going argument with. I write as if she’s going to die, and tears are streaming down my face. I can’t get past the lyrics so I sit. And stop and think. And drink.
Fuck this. Fuckn’ A, Hemingway, you either started all your writing drunk and bloomed from there, or you didn’t really drink when you wrote. I should know this…but he was brilliant!
I play sadder music. A more complicated tune like Radiohead’s “National Anthem” to get me thinking and not focusing on words but guts. I tried doing something high once–in my apartment in Eau Claire where I lived with three other girls. I secretly and for the first time got stoned by myself, and I was going to write something Alice-ish. All I did was draw though–and even the stoned-drawing felt presumptuous. Rehearsed. I have learned I cannot or maybe I just refuse to really allow myself to tap into what I have to say if I’m in any way intoxicated. Man I wish I could. I always imagine the freedom that must come with just saying “fuck it” and writing a master piece. Clearly, this is not realistic thinking. But it’s the romantic idea of an artist’s life.
Let’s face it, we suffer enough. Even when I was really down and out and the “lone sufferer” I couldn’t write then, because I was too close to it. It takes time, I hate to say, but the scary thing is how much time? Because before you know it the book never gets written, and you have a couple dozen poems and essays published that really, well, mean nothing but personal approval that “hey, I can write–they say so.” This post depresses me. TIme to really clear my head and go write!
“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
― Alan Wilson Watts
“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. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke