Letter from Barbara
Just for Fun
Writer's Daily Quote
He Said She Said
Today's WDQ:"Fool!" said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart, and write."
--Sir Philip Sidney
I don't like to read books; they muss up my mind.
Rejection letter, circa 1980:
Today's WDQ:Writers have to get used to launching something beautiful and watching it crash and burn. They also have to learn when to let go control, when the work takes off on its own and flies, farther than they ever planned or imagined, to places they didn't know they knew. All makers must leave room for the acts of the spirit. But they have to work hard and carefully, and wait patiently, to deserve them.
--Ursula K. LeGuin, "Where Do You Get Your Ideas From"
I post a fortune cookie message on my website every month so, as you might imagine, I have a drawerful of the suckers -- little remembrances from more quarts of Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and Hot & Sour Soup than I can count. Anyway, I was sweeping the kitchen floor a little while ago when this literally floated down onto my broom:
Today's WDQ:If you're a writer, you want to get your soul out there, where people can look at it.
--Jeremy Larner (from a radio interview, KQED San Francisco)
I've been keeping a close eye on the appliances today. The refrigerator was acting a little testy and I had to slap down the laptop a time or two but so far they're all keeping in line. R's truck acted up (and who wouldn't -- it was 90 + degrees out there and 1000% humidity) with a flashing service light and marked ennui but it pulled through. That whole "3" thing unnerves the hell out of me. If something has to join the stove and the printer in the great appliance graveyard in the sky, please let it be the blender. A small sacrifice to be made to the Gods of Cranky Equipment.
I haven't updated the Writers Daily Quote
website in at least a year. It's long overdue. Subscription information is available at the Yahoo! site
Or you can write to me
I started Writers Daily Quote as much for myself as for anyone else. I had hoped that the daily sifting through of the wisdom of other writers would help me keep my own demons and insecurities in check.
It worked in the beginning but life got the upper hand for awhile and I lost my center which resulted in gaps in posting. Writers Daily became a bit of a misnomer. I'm back on track now (for the moment) and the words are getting through to me again the way they should.
Today's WDQ: Write regularly, day in and day out, at whatever times of day you find that you write best. Don't wait till you feel that you are in the mood. Write, whether you are feeling inclined to write or not.
--Arnold J. Toynbee, "Experiences"
Today's WDQ:The secret of it all is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment -- to get things down without deliberation -- without worrying about their style -- without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote -- wrote, wrote . . . By writing in the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.
We went up to bed about an hour ago. The second my head hit the pillow I was wide awake. Heart hammering. Mind racing. Imagination out of control. If there's anything I've learned it's that there's little point to staying in bed when insomnia comes calling. Raise the white flag and surrender. That's the best thing you can do.
I'm downstairs now in the living room, typing by the light of the laptop's screen. I should work on the book in progress. I should answer some letters. (I should scrub the kitchen floor but let's not get crazy.)
Certainly one heck of a way to welcome in my birthday, isn't it?
So today the printer blew up.
The Lexmark X83 Printer/Copier/Scanner/Fax got all hot and bothered, emitted the unmistakable smell of sizzled electrons and simmering plastic, and gave up the ghost. Six months old, that's all she was. 180 days of not so terribly hard work.
I wonder if appliances/equipment die in threes the way celebrities do. Should I be casting a suspicious eye at the stereo . . . or is the TV's number finally up? Oh God, not the DVD! Please, anything but that . . .
Today's WDQ:The romantic artist, off alone in his storm-battered castle, fuming
whole worlds from his brain, reflects his culture's most persistent
myth, of God creating from a primal loneliness.
This went out to WDQ today:Words make another place, a place to escape to with your spirit alone.
--Robert MacNeil, "Wordstruck - A Memoir"
Words have always been my hiding place. Reading is a wonderful escape from reality but nothing compares to the pure bliss of writing when it's going well. You're lifted out of yourself and can float freely in and out of the minds and hearts and lives of beggars and kings, heroes and villains, medieval maidens and 23rd century aliens. Bliss, I tell you, absolute bliss.
Sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh.
The stove died yesterday, right in the middle of baking a gigantic pan of spanakopita. It puffed, it popped, it went KA-BOOM! We ran around the house like lunatics, flinging open doors and windows, adjusting fans, ripping the plug out of the socket and praying the gas would stay exactly where it was. God only knows what the problem was but there's no doubt about the diagnosis: dead dead dead. R went out to price new ones today with my blessing. I, virtuous writer that I am, stayed home and wrote.
I'm not sure whether it was laziness on my part or dedication to duty but whichever, I actually racked up some pages.
We are still, however. stoveless.
There's something to be said for just doing it. Action breeds action. I finally posted a new quote to Writers Daily Quotes and it felt like coming home. Funny how the thing you most need is that which you fight the hardest. I need those quotes from other writers. I need to feed on their wisdom and experience. So tell me why I stayed away from that pleasure/necessity for so long? I suspect a touch of the hair shirt, but I may be wrong.
Today's quote was:The awful thing about the first sentence of any book is that as soon as you've written it you realize this piece of work is not going to be the great thing that you envision.
A few months ago I would have sold my soul for a first sentence.
Why am I waiting? I'm here. I'm connected. I'm not doing anything else. Why not start before I realize I'm actually starting and that nasty old internal censor starts whispering in my ear.
The thing is, I've been writing. I was beginning to despair that I ever would write again but it finally kicked in a few weeks ago after a wonderful, miraculous phone chat with my editor C. She put into words what I had known deep inside my gut but couldn't bring myself to face. The terrific idea that I loved more than life simply didn't fit the book I was writing. ("You're writing two separate books," Editor C pointed out and the lightbulb [yes, there really is one] clicked on over my head.)
Here are a few things I learned during my struggle:
1. Nobody wants to read a book that begins in a nursing home. NOBODY.
2. Character is everything. If your characters aren't living and breathing and ready to run away from home (yours) and into their own world, you're not ready to begin. The amount of interior prep work that goes into some books is prodigious. I don't care how terrific the plot is; without 3D characters you can love and hate and cry with, you don't have anything at all.
3. My powers of concentration are shot to hell. The little distractions that used to drift right by me unnoticed, are now giant asteroids plummeting toward earth (more specifically, my desk!) at the speed of light. I swear to you, if a ferret sneezes two counties over, I'm done for the day.
So much for good intentions.
That's when I'll really start.
That's what I've been doing the last few years.
Time to start knitting, sewing, weaving, stitching myself back together again.
Time to put sorrow aside.
Time to be happy again.
No more grieving. Keep the happy memories and move on.
I finally have the time to spend on the things I once loved. Now all I have to do is remember how to play.