“...one doesn't become an artist overnight. You have to be carbonized and mineralized in order to work upwards from the last common denominator of the self. " — Henry Miller (1891 - 1980)
* * *
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 Watts (1915 - 1973)
* * *
The Kind of writing that can be done.
From 'Green Hills of Africa" by Ernest Hemingway
'Do you think your writing is worth doing -- as an end in itself?'
'You are sure?'
'That must be very pleasant.'
'It is,' I said. 'It is the one altogether pleasant thing about it.'
'This is getting awfully serious,' my wife said.
'It's a damned serious subject.'
'You see, he is really serious about something,'
Kandisky said. 'I knew he must be serious on something besides kudu.'
'The reason everyone now tries to avoid it, to deny that it is important, to make it seem. vain to try to do it, is because it is so difficult. Too many factors must combine to make it possible.'
'What is this now?'
'The kind of writing that can be done. How far prose can be carried if anyone is serious enough and has luck. There is a fourth and fifth dimension that can be gotten.'
'You believe it?'
'I know it.'
'And if a writer can get this?'
'Then nothing else matters. It is more important than anything he can do. The chances are, of course, that he will fail. But there is a chance that he succeeds.'
'But that is poetry you are talking about.'
'No. It is much more difficult than poetry. It is a prose that has never been written. But it can be written, without tricks and without cheating. With nothing that will go bad afterwards.'
* * *
How Does A Poem Mean?
by John Ciardi (also applies to prose)
Henry Miller's Eleven Commandments
by Charles Bukowski
by Janet Burroway
by Annie Dillard
by Jerome Stern
by Betsy Lerner
by Stephen King
More to come...