“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”—CARL SAGAN (via Advice to Writers)
A little boy… sent me a charming card with a little drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
— from Maurice Sendak’s 2011 interview with Terry Gross. [Fresh Air via @LettersOfNote]
I’ve been so disconnected from everything lately and I need to find a way to plug back in.
First on the agenda? Finding the time to work my writing back into my daily routine. Now that we’re a one vehicle household I just can’t take off to the library or the park after work to write. Well, okay, I guess I could technically take off for the library after work but that would require schlepping myself and my gear across town to the library. On foot. We all know that’s not going to happen.
So I need a plan ‘B’. I’m all about the plan ‘B’. I believe plan B should include chocolate. And ice cream.
Let me say upfront, I’m all for being prepared. I live in Illinois and we’re now heading into spring - otherwise known as the first round of tornado season. So the husby and I make sure that we have our “holy crap there’s really a tornado coming” plans set. We’ve purchased an extra package of batteries for our flashlights (because we’re bound to lose power) and are looking into buying a weather radio (because we both sleep so soundly we’d likely sleep through the sirens if they sounded at night).
However, I’m not sitting around freaking out over the potential for a devastating tornado. Not because I think it can’t happen but because there’s a line where planning for survival in the event of a potential future disaster can come to eclipse actually LIVING your life in the present.
I suspect that the lady I’m watching has crossed that line. She doesn’t have time for a boyfriend, her friends, etc. because she spends every single minute preparing for the end of the world - she wants to be sure she survives. Okaaayyyy. I mean, sure, I’d like to survive too but I’m not willing to completely sacrifice my life in the currently passably awesome world for the chance to survive in a post-apocalyptic future.
Sometimes I envy athletes (not often, mind, because I’m fundamentally lazy) because they have a quantifiable way of knowing where they stand. If you’re running a race you know you’re good enough if you win or place in the top 5 (or, in my case, complete the race without dying). If you’re playing a game you know you’re good enough if you end up with the best score. It’s easy to see who’s the best but what about writing?
Sure, finishing a book is an accomplishment but what if it isn’t any good? What if you can’t get an agent or a publisher? Does that mean you’re not any good? Not necessarily. I’ve read some amazing books by seriously talented authors who were unable to secure publishing via the traditional routes. For them it had nothing to do with the level of awesome contained within their works but rather the ‘climate’ of the publishing world at the moment. Publishing is, after all, a business and if the powers that be don’t think your work will fly they won’t invest in it. No matter how talented you are.
So, what if you do land the agent and the agent lands you a publishing deal? Then are you ‘good’? Maybe but I think anyone who has read more than a couple of books knows that not every book that gets published is good. Bad books get printed all the time and some of them even become best sellers while wonderfully written novels stay on the shelves until they’re moved aside for something new.
I love to write but I also worry that I suck and there’s no real way to know if I suck. Which totally sucks for me.
So, if you’re a writer or other artisty type - how do you know when you’ve been successful? Or does success even matter?
The hubs is working late tonight so I’m going to be on my own until about 9:00 pm. This means some quality writing time for me. Here’s hoping the people at the library keep the crazy to a minimum tonight so I can actually get some work done.
Which reminds me - why doesn’t my town have a freaking STARBUCKS?
Just ask my poor, swollen pinky toe - injured by a rogue chair that jumped right out into my path as I was crossing the room to prepare for my work out. I believe this is the universe’s way of telling me to sit back down on the sofa and put my feet up. And who am I to argue with the universe?