From the Basement

June 27, 2010

Favorite Quotes that can apply (however loosely) to Writing

Hi all. Sorry I’ve been absent the last few days; I’ve been hard at work on the novel. Almost up to 10K. Some days are easier than others. I’ve also been busting ass applying for jobs – 9 in the last 2 days. I’m developing a distaste for the weekend, as there are no job updates.

But this post isn’t about job applications. It’s about writing and, specifically, some of my favorite quotes that apply to the writing process; I have several of these on my desktop background. Some aren’t explicitly about writing but are still germane to the topic. Curiously, some of the advice may also apply to the job application process. Good advice is often able to transcend the borders of genre, the compartments into which we divide our lives. Some things just cut through to the core.

So, without further ado, I present to you my favorite quotes that can apply (however loosely) to that glorious process we call Writing.

1. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi

2. Fear is a sign – usually a sign that I’m doing something write. – Erica Jong

3. If you are going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

4. Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work. – Rita Mae Brown

5. We work in our darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing. – John Steinbeck

6. The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. –  Tom Clancy

7. Why worry about the ending anyway? Why be such a control freak? Sooner or later every story comes out somewhere. – Stephen King

8. If everything seems under control, then you’re just not going fast enough. – Mario Andretti

9. If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people. – Virginia Woolf

10. Done is good. Better is the enemy of done. – my friend Hilary

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May 21, 2010

“Traveling”

I’ve been traveling, I suppose. It’s something I had to do. What appears to be listless time sitting at the breakfast bar to my mother has been, at the core, a very important time in my life.

I’m in transition. In transition toward purpose. Toward something. I don’t know what. While my peers are still in class, I’ve had two blessed (and equally rocky) months at home, sprinkled with visits and conversation, but on the whole, a time of solitude and reflection. I’ve taken two months off from the “real world,” as it were; in spite of all the job applications, it’s been months of journeying into myself, wondering, questioning.

Characters in books do it all the time. Jessie, the protagonist of Susan Monk Kidd’s The Mermaid Chair (which I’m currently reading), returns to Egret Island off the coast of South Carolina to care for her mentally ailing mother and ends up staying for an indefinite period of time. She rediscovers her love for art, takes a hiatus from her marriage, uncovers revelatory and shocking information about her father’s death, and has an affair with a monk who is months away from taking his final vows.

Notwithstanding the monk and marriage parts, I can relate to her hiatus. I’ve unearthed a deep love for reading and especially writing, a love buried under the dirt and grime of academia and banal to-do lists. I’ve rediscovered how much I love my boyfriend. How desperate I am to strike out on my life. Also, how bad I am at waiting on God. (Some days are better than others, and the last few days, I have been racked with an impatience that is sometimes angry, sometimes bitter, but never pleasant.)

“Traveling,” is what a character in The Mermaid Chair calls it. A spiritual journey into your soul, into yourself. Figuring myself out, though the last few months have posed more questions than answers. The only thing that has strengthened has been my relationship and reliance on God, in spite of the toddler in me that throws tantrums in the waiting room – he remains the constant that ties the threads of my life together. He’s the only thing that makes things make sense.

A part of me wants to apologize to the friends that are reading this blog – it may feel monotonous at times, the same concerns – the waiting, the job hunting, reflecting on the transient state of my life. But the truth is, even though this is public and numerous friends have been directed toward it … it’s for me. All my life, I’ve processed by writing. My prayers are almost always written; I get distracted by shiny objects and a need for coffee otherwise. And writing this blog has been an indescribably wonderful source of support over the last month. So really, I just want to say that I appreciate my friends’ dedication and patience, and that you are welcome to tune in whenever you like. And in the meantime, I’ll keep writing, reading, processing, praying.

“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith.” – Oswald Chambers

“We work in our darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing.” – John Steinbeck

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