Monday, November 11, 2013

Goddesses in the Dust: Comforting Words from Karen, Alexandra, Elizabeth and E.M.

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...
First Commuion: All Dressed Up and No Place To Go
As a writer, I feel isolated a lot of the time. It is the nature of the beast: unless you're part of a writing team, we work alone. To be honest, this doesn't make me unhappy. I love my work and feel fortunate to be able to do it. But having said that, even we isolated writers need to connect. Joining a local writing group is one way to do it, connecting with other writers out there through social media is another. I feel fortunate to be in touch with other writers who are doing the same thing I am: working alone, creating their novels, their essays, their memoirs. Letting go of agents who do not handle the new genre you are working in, hovering in a no-woman's land while looking for the next agent who does. Finishing one novel and starting in on the next, while working on five other ideas for travel articles and a short story - all to be submitted in the hopes of acceptance. 

Acceptance. That's the operative term here. We writers all write, number one for ourselves, and number two in the hope that our work will reach others. For that, we need agents and editors - or we can self publish. The publishing world is changing around us as we speak, so who knows what the landscape will look like in five, ten, twenty years? 

As I continue on this road, yes I am alone, but there are companions to call on when I need them, goddesses all (and one immortal) of the pen. 

Karen Russell, the Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Swamplandia! offers this:

So if I can move in a linear way through the story, and stay zipped inside the story, not jinx myself with despair or frustration or over-confidence or self-consciousness, and be basically okay with not-knowing what is going to happen from one sentence to the next, that’s a great writing day. 

Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, says:

I think you have to write about a million words to clean out the pipes. I think we are afraid of our own voices and very self-censoring, and we write as if the book is going to publish and be read by people. Once we realize we're never going to get published and we just write; that's our voice.

From Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love:

In the end, I love this work. I have always loved this work. My suggestion is that you start with the love and then work very hard and try to let go of the results. Cast out your will, and then cut the line. Please try, also, not to go totally freaking insane in the process. 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. As the great poet Jack Gilbert said once to young writer, when she asked him for advice about her own poems: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.

But perhaps the most comforting sentiment is embedded within the oft quoted lines from E.M. Forster's novel, Howard's End:

Only connect! 

That was the whole of her sermon. 
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted,
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in fragments no longer.
Only connect...
Young love connecting  (yes - c'est moi:)) - note the angry onlooker!)

10 comments:

  1. Yes, a resonant post, many bells chiming for all of us. I know you are too sane to go insane. Let's stand together — and connect! (Love the Elizabeth Gilbert quote.)

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    1. Thanks, Robert. Advocating for sanity and ready to connect...:))

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  2. Loved the quotes but what I loved best was that last photo. It's so very you.

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    1. Haha - you got my number. For better or worse I was sassy from the get-go. Recently I've been trying to pry some of that sass out from underneath my Cancerian shy exterior :))

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  3. Great writing! Great quotes! Just keep on writing; that's the only way you get better. Insanity is only for crazy people like me — not for you, with your sharp eye and exciting reflection.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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  4. I can so relate to every single word...which ultimately is why I so connect with you dear friend.Two souls,on opposite sides of the world,searching,in our own quite ways to let loose what we have inside. I'm an artist of another kind,but like you I enjoy the silence and still find myself needing to connect every now and then.Thankful every minute that we get to do what we love and mustering up the courage,every minute of everyday to say "yes" I have the courage to bring forth this work.Yesterday, I read the most amazing quote,speaking to the introvert(that's me)..."In a gentle way,you can shake up the world" Gandhi
    Your an amazing writer dear friend,I know this because when I get the chance to visit you,I always leave a changed person...and I am so thankful for that.xox

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  5. It's good that you've found support in your community, online and from authors who came before you. I liked those quotations. I'm with you, in this waiting game.

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  6. I relate most to this, " Once we realize we're never going to get published and we just write; that's our voice." however, I realize I am an odd duck and don't participate in the world the way others do. oh, but I will never be a writer, only a woman, a person, driven fundamentally to live and then as its shadow, to write about it. language, words draw the body ironically almost like a cadaver to the middle of the floor of living. but I can not have acceptance come near what I do. I can not have ambition outside of the ambition to live and the hope to find words for it.

    but this is why I am who I am and you are who you are. :) this is why there is room enough in the world for difference.

    you know you have my best wishes for your life and your writing.

    xo
    erin

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