I took a brief time off in the last couple of weeks to reflect on what I have learned about me and you, the reader, as I published the first ten issues of this newsletter. Having recognized the challenges and the key aspects of the process that I need to focus on, I’m changing things up with the newsletter in this second outing, if I may call it that. With the promise of keeping the core the same, I just want to experiment with a shorter version of each issue - 3 wonderful works on and of writing.
Also, I would be sending out the issue every 2 weeks going ahead to lend myself ample time to read and word a brief commentary about each recommendation I’ve for you.
With the awkward announcement out of the way, here we go with this week’s issue.
I have rarely read a more ornate description for a writer than what Joy Williams has in her brilliant essay. It’s a short read, but it makes you pause and ponder over each idea. Just for Joy’s fascinating interpretation of the tale of a man’s fate and what that represents for a writer, I would bookmark this essay and reread it occasionally.
A writer’s awareness must never be inadequate. Still, it will never be adequate to the greater awareness of the work itself, the work that the writer is trying to write. The writer must not really know what he is knowing, what he is learning to know when he writes, which is more than the knowing of it. A writer loves the dark, loves it, but is always fumbling around in the light. The writer is separate from his work but that’s all the writer is—what he writes. A writer must be smart but not too smart. He must be dumb enough to break himself to harness. He must be reckless and patient and daring and dull—for what is duller than writing, trying to write?
Each time I read this insightful post from Elizabeth Gilbert, I find a new advice that I had missed earlier. Every paragraph, every statement is a nice reminder for each writer, aspiring and established, to focus on what matters the most to keep writing. Elizabeth talks about how she herself got started writing, how every writer should handle rejections and yet should keep trying with unwavering desire to write more. “It’s not the world’s fault that you want to be an artist…now get back to work” - I’ve framed this blunt, yet effective, suggestion from Elizabeth on the wall opposite to my writing desk.
Insanity is a very tempting path for artists, but we don’t need any more of that in the world at the moment, so please resist your call to insanity. We need more creation, not more destruction. We need our artists more than ever, and we need them to be stable, steadfast, honorable and brave – they are our soldiers, our hope. If you decide to write, then you must do it, as Balzac said, “like a miner buried under a fallen roof.” Become a knight, a force of diligence and faith. I don’t know how else to do it except that way.
Jonathan Lethem succinctly and pointedly talks about the thin line between inspiration and plagiarism in the varied art forms. With an observation, that “literature has always been a crucible in which familiar themes are continually recast” and backing it by abundant examples, Jonathan goes on to speculate if there exists such a line at all.
Most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master. That is to say, most artists are converted to art by art itself. Finding one’s voice isn’t just an emptying and purifying oneself of the words of others but an adopting and embracing of filiations, communities, and discourses. Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos. Any artist knows these truths, no matter how deeply he or she submerges that knowing.
Have any recommendations or feedback for me? I’d love to hear from you. Just hit reply, or you can even email me.
Thank you for reading and sharing.