Monday, February 14, 2011

The Full Measure of a Writer's Heart: Glimpse the Mystery, Create, Feed the Lake

Happy Valentine's Day! My gift to you today is these five little "Writers' Hearts" from five of my favorite inspirational books about writing, art, and spirituality. I could have spent hours on this and come up with dozens more, but alas, I have a book to write, a writers' workshop to organize (more on that soon!) and (yuck) a doctor's appointment. (It should have occurred to me how quickly the nurse suggested this date when I called for the appointment. Who wants to go to the doctor on Valentine's Day?) Anyway, I hope you enjoy the hearts! (Want to create some of these hearts to send to someone? Click here.)

I want people who write to crash or drive below the surface, where life is so cold and confusing and hard to see. I want writers to plunge through the holes—the holes we try to fill up with all the props. In those holes and in the spaces around them exist all sort of possibility, including the chance to see who we are and to glimpse the mystery.Ann Lamott (Bird by Bird)

Here is what I want from a book, what I demand, what I pray for when I take up a novel and begin to read the first sentence: I want everything and nothing less, the full measure of a writer’s heart. I want a novel so poetic that I do not have to turn to the standby anthologies of poetry to satisfy that itch for music, for perfection and economy of phrasing, for exactness of tone. Then, too, I want a book so filled with story and character that I read page after page without thinking of food and drink, because a writer has possessed me, crazed me with an unappeasable thirst to know what happens next. – Pat Conroy (My Reading Life)

Your job is to marshal the talent you do have and find people who believe in your work. What’s important, finally, is that you create, and that those creations define for you what matters most, that which cannot be extinguished even in the face of silence, solitude, and rejection.Betsy Lerner (The Forest for the Trees)

I do feel, when I’m writing at a fever pitch, that intensity that you feel when you get saved. There’s nothing else that makes you feel like that. There’s getting saved, sex, and writing…. That pretty much says it all. Except, of course, chocolate pecan pie, which some people say is better than sex.Lee Smith (interview in All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality)

The important thing is to recognize that our gift, no matter what the size, is indeed something given us, for which we can take no credit, but which we may humbly serve, and, in serving, learn more wholeness, be offered wondrous newness. Picasso says that an artist paints not to ask a question but because he has found something and he wants to share—he cannot help it—what he has found. We all feed the lake. That is what is important. It is a corporate act.Madeleine L’Engle (Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art)

8 comments:

c.a. Marks said...

Nice! Thanks for this and happy Valentine's Day to you too.

alishamk said...

Very nice post. Thanks. L'Engle was my first favorite as a young girl. She opened my brain.

Julie said...

I love this! Thanks for posting this today!

Caitlyn said...

That quote from Lee Smith solidifies my love for her. Love it!

PS- Smith's "On Agate Hill" was what I purchased when I made a stranger-friend for you today at square books :~)

Richard Gilbert said...

What a great post, Susan. It makes me want to get busy and post one very much like it tht I wrote but haven't uploaded, partly because my angle is the quotes that happen to be on my "writing desk" right now, the ones that are actively helping me, and there's too many. You show me that six is the perfect number.

Those are great quotes, and I especially like Anne Lamott's. It reminds me of one on my active list: "“The realest, most honest part of anyone is the part that suffers.” My brother in law, a retired shrink, told me that, when I was shrinking before going deeply into passages that were dark.

Louise (ThoughtsHappen) said...

I love, love, love Anne Lamott. One of my favorite writers ever, so imagine my happiness to find her in your Writer's Hearts! I aspire to be as brave as she is in her writing. Wonderful stuff - thanks for the great blog.

Susan Marquez said...

Just the right words...at just the right time. Susan, God put you in my life for a reason, and I know exactly what it is. You're my writing sensei! Thank you!

Cyn Armes said...

Thank you, Susan, for these inspiring quotes. One of my favorite books is Bird by Bird! It is on my desk, and I refer to it often for inspiration. Also, love "Feed the Lake" in your title -- which inspired my blog entry today.

“All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” Jean Rhys