Humility doesn’t mean hiding your gift

humility doesn't mean hiding

Glenna Marshall, clarifying humility:

Humility doesn’t mean hiding. Humility means acknowledging that everything you have is from God. Why would you want to hide what He’s given you?

Read the whole post here: The mountains cry out.

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Procrastination, disguised as work

must. sharpen. pencils.

must. sharpen. pencils.

Gretchen Rubin, in a short article titled “Working: One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Procrastination“:

When I have to do something I don’t want to do, any other task seems irresistibly enticing.”

Or as Robert Benchley put it:

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.”

And John Perry, author of The Art of Procrastination, says:

[To be a procrastinator,] one needs to be able to recognize and commit oneself to tasks with inflated importance and unreal deadlines, while making oneself feel that they are important and urgent. This is not a problem, because virtually all procrastinators have excellent self-deceptive skills also.

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photo credit: jurek d. via photopin cc

Ray Bradbury on writing

INTERVIEWER (The Art of Fiction No. 203, The Paris Review):

In Zen in the Art of Writing, you wrote that early on in your career you made lists of nouns as a way to generate story ideas: the Jar, the Cistern, the Lake, the Skeleton. Do you still do this?

RAY BRADBURY:

Not as much, because I just automatically generate ideas now. But in the old days I knew I had to dredge my subconscious, and the nouns did this. I learned this early on. Three things are in your head: First, everything you have experienced from the day of your birth until right now…. Then, how you reacted to those events in the minute of their happening, whether they were disastrous or joyful. Those are two things you have in your mind to give you material. Then, separate from the living experiences are all the art experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve learned from other writers, artists, poets, film directors, and composers. So all of this is in your mind as a fabulous mulch and you have to bring it out. How do you do that? I did it by making lists of nouns and then asking, What does each noun mean? You can go and make up your own list right now and it would be different than mine. The night. The crickets. The train whistle. The basement. The attic. The tennis shoes. The fireworks. All these things are very personal. Then, when you get the list down, you begin to word-associate around it. You ask, Why did I put this word down? What does it mean to me? Why did I put this noun down and not some other word? …You have to write the way you see things. I tell people, “Make a list of ten things you hate and tear them down in a short story or poem. Make a list of ten things you love and celebrate them.” When I wrote Fahrenheit 451 I hated book burners and I loved libraries. So there you are.

 

Joseph Heller on writing

Joseph Heller:

Every writer I know has trouble writing.

Tidbits about Joseph Heller from Wikipedia:

Shortly after Catch-22 was published, Heller thought of an idea for his next novel, which would become Something Happened, but did not act on it for two years.

All of [Heller’s other] novels sold respectably well, but could not duplicate the success of his debut. Told by an interviewer that he had never produced anything else as good as Catch-22, Heller famously responded, “Who has?”

Heller did not begin work on a story until he had envisioned both a first and last line. The first sentence usually appeared to him “independent of any conscious preparation.” In most cases, the sentence did not inspire a second sentence….

Only when he was almost one-third finished with the novel would he gain a clear vision of what it should be about. At that point… he would rewrite all that he had finished and then continue to the end of the story. The finished version of the novel would often not begin or end with the sentences he had originally envisioned, although he usually tried to include the original opening sentence somewhere in the text.

The Writer

Please do not reproduce this art without linking to artist.*

For my daughter, who is writing a story, in Greece.   -js.

Richard Wilbur:

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

* Art by Kirsty Griffin; for sale on etsy.

Poem discovered via Bill Coleman; thanks!

Anna Quindlen on writer’s block

Anna Quindlen, in The Agony of Writing:

I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s not that sometimes you can’t write, it’s that you can’t write* well. Experience has told me that writing poorly sometimes leads to something better. Not writing at all leads only to reruns of “Law and Order.” Which I love, but still.

(At the end of a day’s writing), I always stop in mid-sentence. Starting a new chapter or a new paragraph first thing in the morning might be too much to bear. But I can always manage to finish a sentence. And one sentence has a way of following another if everything else around me is routine enough.

*Or design. (sic)