Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reality check

The un-glamorous, uneventful life of an artist is fully described in The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. I recommend.
Regarding the poet Wallace Stevens, she explains:
Wallace Stevens in his forties, living in Hartford, Connecticut, hewed to a productive routine. He rose at six, read for two hours, and walked another hour – three miles – to work. He dictated poems to his secretary. [He was working in an insurance company.] He ate no lunch; at noon he walked for another hour, often to an art gallery. He walked home from work – another hour. After dinner he retired to his study; he went to bed at nine. On Sundays, he walked in the park. I don’t know what he did on Saturdays. Perhaps he exchanged a few words with his wife [...].

In a nutshell, don't expect more than the daily grind. And keep the body moving.


Sarah Masarachia said...

"The Writing Life" is one of my favorite books. I have quotes from it on note cards if I need a kick in the ass. The one with the most resonance for me this morning:

"One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fills from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

Whew. Thanks, Annie, I needed that.

Have you read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott?

Another favorite of mine. She has a whole chapter entitled "Shitty First Drafts." This is a woman who speaks to my heart.

And "On Writing" by Stephen King is very good...

All these books speak to the work, the grindstone, the day-by-day effort of the thing worth doing...

Molly Stevens said...

Sarah! (Hi! H! Great to hear from you).

I will look into the other books you mention.

With the Dilliard, I very much like how it's not motivational reading. The mystery and basic un-pleasantness of making is all there. And then, in the end, you feel a motivation.

love to you. MS