“My belief is that if we live another century or so — I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals — and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting-room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton’s bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.”—Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.
I always say that there are two types of readers. The first reads to
escape. This reader wants to visit worlds that he couldn’t get to on
his own. He wants to be swept away and shocked and to forget real life
while he dives into plot twists and worldbuilding. He wants to read
characters he would love to meet in real life. He wants to be
completely outside of himself for a while. It’s an amazing way to
read. I wish I could do it.
The second reads to have his hand held. He wants little glances and
words that he sees everyday. He wants the people he knows and doesn’t
understand. He wants to read sentences that make him think, “I thought
I was the only one who felt that way, and there it is put into words.”
I am the second type entirely. It’s much more selfish, I think. I read
to see myself. But it’s the only way I know the words for what I’m
"The theater is the only art form that concerns itself predominately with social issues. Can we get along? Can we get along in this room? Can we get along as a society? How might we get along better?" - Anne Bogart, certified theatre genius
“Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may not let it rip. It is life at is most free, if you are fortunate enough to be able to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself. In the democracies, you may even write and publish anything you please about any governments or institutions, even if what you write is demonstrably false.
The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever. You are free to make several thousand close judgment calls a day. Your freedom is a by-product of your days’ triviality. A shoe salesman—who is doing others’ tasks, who must answer to two or three bosses, who must do his job their way, and must put himself in their hands, at their place, during their hours—is nevertheless working usefully. Further, if the shoe salesman fails to appear one morning, someone will notice and miss him. Your manuscript, on which you lavish such care, has no needs or wishes; it knows you not. Nor does anyone need your manuscript; everyone needs shoes more. There are many manuscripts already—worthy ones, most edifying and moving ones, intelligent and powerful ones.”—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (via mlleh)
“Books. People have no idea how beautiful books are. How they taste on your fingers. How bright everything is when you light it with words.”— Rachel Kadish,Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story (via thesearepeopleyouknow)
“Yeah,” he said. “I must have been dandy. Is everybody sore at me?”
“Good heavens, no,” she said. “Everyone thought you were terribly funny. Of course, Jim Pierson was a little stuffy, there for a minute at dinner. But people sort of held him back in his chair, and got him calmed down. I don’t think anybody at the other tables noticed at all. Hardly anybody.”
“He was going to sock me?” he said. “Oh, Lord. What did I do to him?”
“Why, you didn’t do a thing,” she said. “You were perfectly fine. But you know how silly Jim gets when he thinks anybody is making too much fuss over Elinor.”
“Was I making a pass at Elinor?” he said. “Did I do that?”
“Of course you didn’t,” she said. “You were only fooling, that’s all. She thought you were awfully amusing. She was having a marvelous time. She only got a little tiny bit annoyed just once, when you poured the clam juice down her back.”
“I really feel that we’re not giving children enough credit for distinguishing what’s right and what’s wrong. I, for one, devoured fairy tales as a little girl. I certainly didn’t believe that kissing frogs would lead me to a prince, or that eating a mysterious apple would poison me, or that with the magical ‘Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo’ I would get a beautiful dress and a pumpkin carriage.”—J.K. Rowling (via libraryland)
Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow. I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain. I am in the morning hush, I am in the graceful rush Of beautiful birds in circling flight, I am the starshine of the night. I am in the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room. I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing. Do not stand at my grave bereft I am not there. I have not left.
"I think of the chimp, the one with the talking hands. In the course of the experiment, that chimp had a baby. Imagine how her trainers must have thrilled when the mother, without prompting, began to sign her newborn. Baby, drink milk. Baby, play ball. And when the baby died, the mother stood over the body, her wrinkled hands moving with animal grace, forming again and again the words: Baby, come hug, Baby come hug, fluent now in the language of grief.” — Amy Hempel (The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel)
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”—Sylvia Plath (via kari-shma)
“The biggest problem that women have is being ambivalent about their own power … We should be comfortable with the idea of wielding power. We shouldn’t feel that it detracts from our femininity.”—Elizabeth Wurtzel
from http://therumpus.net/2011/02/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-64/. For all the lady-writers-in-progress.
I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now?
Love, Seeking Wisdom
Dear Seeking Wisdom,
Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.
In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best woman friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.
You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.
When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do ecstasy with them, say no.
There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.
One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.
Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.
You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.
Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.
One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.
Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.
When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.
The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.
One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.
“You’re dead, you know,” the painter said with the wall before him a fragment still of desire. It peeked out from strips of rolled-on white like her fingers stretching in gloves made fingerless by a merciless snip of kitchen shears. I watched as the color the home improvement store called pine…
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting— over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
“For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.”—Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography (via libraryland)
“It was inevitable that she should accept any inconsistency and cruelty from her deity as all good worshippers do from theirs. All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.”—Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
“In her joyful heart she performs the song of death on the plain. She performs the song of her heart. She washes their weapons with blood and gore, … Axes smash heads, spears penetrate and maces are covered in blood. Their evil mouths … the warriors … On their first offerings she pours blood, filling them with blood.”—Enheduanna, an Akkadian Princess. Regarded by literary and historical scholars as the earliest known author and poet, she served as an En Priestess during the third millennium BC.
Are we allowed to submit our own personal work? Or only published things from well known writers?
Yes, absolutely! Submitting your own work is both welcomed and encouraged, but only if you provide a link to a) your own personal website where people can read more of your work, even if it’s only excerpts, b) a link to your publisher, or resume or something or c) a little blurb that lists a couple places where your work has appeared. We give credit to the submitter as well as the artist if they are two different people and if you provide us with a link to your website/blog/whatever, we will include that as well. Please be aware that not everything submitted is ultimately deemed appropriate to the mission of the blog and that if a great many submissions are focused around the same artist we are likely to pick and chose which ones end up as posts.
That said - Yes! Please, send us your work, the work of a talented friend, an admirable enemy or videos/links/news articles/images/excerpts of things you have stumbled across we might be interested in. Don’t by shy. We aren’t judgmental and we possess a wide variety of interests. Even if what you submit isn’t posted due to lack of relevance, we very much appreciate your interest and involvement. It wouldn’t be unusual for your submission to make it onto the personal sites of the founders in that situation. (In which case we will certainly let you know.)
Remember we like (some we outright adore) gentlemen writers too and we do accept work by them, but only if the submitted work is supportive/positive/inspiring to lady writers.
Thank you again for your interest! And, as always, if you have any further questions please feel free to get in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org.