Courtesy of Kathi Nehls, via The Chronicle:
Enjoy the break y’all; hope everyone gets a new pair of writing pants, ’cause we’re going to put ’em on and wear ’em in after the new year!
“History…is a matter of very solemn concern. You are to approach it with bowed forehead, unbonnetted front, and most philosophical exordium. It is not your light romance–your irreverent poetry. It is a sort of holy revelation of the past…There must be an awful solemnity of look and accent when the dry bones of ancient facts are to be unburied. You must delve, you must drudge, you must shake a mystical head, till it rattles again, in order to be a historian after the modern acceptation.”
By William Gilmore Simms in, “Weems, the Biographer and Historian,” from Views and Reviews, Second Series (1845), as quoted in Lewis Leary, The Book-Peddling Parson: An Account of the life and works of Mason Locke Weems; patriot, pitchman, author, and purveyor of morality to the citizens of the early United States of America, (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1984), 153.
Thought this website had inspirational potential for the creative mind.
“The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.” – Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
“Look at me!–how I labored–how I toiled–how I wrote! Ye Gods, did I not write? I knew not the word ‘ease.’ By day I adhered to my desk, and at night, a pale student, I consumed the midnight oil. You should have seen me–you should. I leaned to the right. I leaned to the left. I sat forward. I sat backward…bowing my head close to the alabaster page. And, through all, I–wrote. Through joy and through sorrow, I–wrote. Through hunger and through thirst, I–wrote. Through good report and through ill report, I–wrote. Through sunshine and through moonshine, I–wrote. What I wrote it is unnecessary to say. The style!–that was the thing.”
–Edgar Allan Poe, “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq., Late Editor of the ‘Goosetherumfoodle.’ By Himself””
Goddamn it you took liberties with peoples’ pasts and futures that produced not people but damned marvellously faked case histories. You, who can write better than anybody can, who are so lousy with talent that you have to—the hell with it. Scott for gods sake write and write truly no matter who or what it hurts but do not make these silly compromises. You could write a fine book about Gerald and Sara for instance if you knew enough about them and they would not have any feeling, except passing, if it were true.
There were wonderful places and nobody else nor none of the boys can write a good one half as good reading as one that doesn’t come out by you, but you cheated too damned much in this one. And you don’t need to.
In the first place I’ve always claimed that you can’t think. All right, we’ll admit you can think. But say you couldn’t think; then you ought to write, invent, out of what you know and keep the people’s antecedants straight. Second place, a long time ago you stopped listening except to the answers to your own questions. You had good stuff in too that it didn’t need. That’s what dries a writer up (we all dry up. That’s no insult to you in person) not listening. That is where it all comes from. Seeing, listening. You see well enough. But you stop listening.
It’s a lot better than I say. But it’s not as good as you can do.
You can study Clausewitz in the field and economics and psychology and nothing else will do you any bloody good once you are writing. We are like lousy damned acrobats but we make some mighty fine jumps, bo, and they have all these other acrobats that won’t jump.
For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. You feel you have to publish crap to make money to live and let live. All write but if you write enough and as well as you can there will be the same amount of masterpiece material (as we say at Yale). You can’t think well enough to sit down and write a deliberate masterpiece and if you could get rid of Seldes and those guys that nearly ruined you and turn them out as well as you can and let the spectators yell when it is good and hoot when it is not you would be all right.
Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist—but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.
I am the proud owner of a nearly finished first draft of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dissertation.