Every creature is better alive than dead,
men and moose and pine trees,
and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Just now, I sat down at my computer and went to pexels.com in search of a Lamb’s Ear photo. My plan for this blog post was to publicly declare my new-found hostility toward that invasive plant, and to describe how I’d ripped out AT LEAST SEVENTY GAZILLION of them from my garden today.
But when I got to pexels.com, my search results from several weeks ago were still there; I’d been looking for images for the characters in my work-in-progress.
I’ve decided to drop my rant and, instead, dedicate today’s post to this delightful child.
I grabbed my copy of WRITERS DREAMING from the shelf and opened it in hopes of finding something interesting/insightful to share here today. I wasn’t searching for anything in particular and within a couple minutes, I happened upon these two excerpts:
I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t take notes.
I tell myself, trust the unconscious.
If something is important enough in my unconscious life I will remember.
It will come to me when I need it.
So I don’t keep a notebook of good lines, good thoughts or dreams.
~ Bharati Mukherjee in WRITERS DREAMING
Usually I don’t take notes
even when I have an idea for a story until I actually sit down to do it.
Because I always have felt that I have so many ideas that the ones that are important to me, that really are good, will stay.
And the other stuff will fade.
That’s kind of a filing system.
If it was not that interesting, or not that good an idea, if it had a germ of something good in it, that part will come back.
It’ll be in there somewhere.
~ John Sayles in WRITERS DREAMING
What the hell? No notes? Because the unconscious? And because bad will fade away and good will make itself known?
Who are these writers with their functioning memories and bizarre confidence in their abilities?!
I can’t imagine life without notebooks.
I have a variety of notebooks in a drawer, waiting for me to pull them out to write down all sorts of things inside. The good, bad, and everything in between. It’s how I sort out what’s what and who’s who in my stories. Notebooks help me navigate the oftentimes confusing dance of ideas going on in my head.
I take notes because I’m that kind of writer.
What the what?! A paperback in my mailbox? A book without author or ISBN? A book seemingly focused on end times?
Oh, cool. God’s got my back. What a relief to find out I no longer need to worry about Agent Orange & The Billionaire’s Club!
I’ve been offline most of the day and checked in to discover Carrie Fisher has died. It’s hard to comprehend. She seemed indestructible. Tiny and fierce. A forever force of nature.
I remember reading POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE the first time. I remember thinking that Carrie Fisher was hilarious, yes, but also incredibly insightful about what it means to be human. She was so damned smart and brave. And generous. She went to her dark places and brought that scariness out into the light as a gift to us. Her writing, tweets, and interviews were a constant reminder that none of us is alone on this spinning ball, and that since we’re in this thing together, we might as well share laughter along the way.
There’s lots of gold in the book’s “postcards” written by character Suzanne Vale, but this portion from the Epilogue speaks to me now:
[…I still don’t think I feel the way I perceive other people to feel. I don’t know if the problem lies in my perception or my comfort. Either way I come out fighting, wrestling with my nature, as it were. And golly, what a mother of nature it is. Sometimes, though, I’ll be driving, listening to loud music with the day spreading out all over, and I’ll feel something so big and great—a feeling as loud as the music. It’s as though my skin is the only thing that keeps me from going everywhere all at once. …]
Happy New Year,
Carrie Fisher lived a life big and bold, and I’m glad her skin kept her here with us as long as it did. Wherever you are now, Carrie, I hope there’s nonstop loud music and feelings so big and great. You were one helluva writer and human being. Rest in peace.
A bum on a cot next to Trout’s at the shelter wished him a Merry Christmas.
Trout replied, “Ting-a-ling! Ting-a-ling!”
~ From TIMEQUAKE by Kurt Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut gets my vote for all-time best humanist, and Ting-a-ling! gets my vote for best response to these frightening and infuriating times.
I just read GOOD PROSE: THE ART OF NONFICTION by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. As the cover says, it is “Stories and advice from a lifetime of writing and editing.” I highly recommend this wise and funny book.
I remember in college reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel The Last Tycoon and studying a note that he left in the manuscript: “Rewrite from mood. Has become stilted with rewriting. Don’t look — rewrite from mood.” I reread those lines so often, trying to understand them, that they stuck in my memory. Fitzgerald knew that there are at least two kinds of rewriting. The first is trying to fix what you’ve already written, but doing this can keep you from facing up to the second kind, from figuring out the essential thing you’re trying to do and looking for better ways to tell your story. If Fitzgerald had been advising a young writer and not himself, he might have said, “Rewrite from principle,” or “Don’t just push the same old stuff around. Throw it away and start over.”
I’m getting close to The End (of this draft) of my YA project, and very much appreciate Mr. Kidder sharing Mr. Fitzgerald’s wisdom with me. Maybe it will reach someone else who needs it now.