1. Make sure you enjoy writing. Writers always like to say how hard the writing process is and how much suffering it causes. They’re lying. People don’t like to admit they make a living from something they genuinely enjoy.—
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“Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong - and in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways in which life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician…make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor…make good art. IRS on your trail…make good art. Cat exploded…make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid, or evil, or it’s all been done before…make good art. Probably things will work out somehow and eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best…make good art” - Neil Gaiman
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“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced that there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes but by no means always find the way to do it” - letter from John Steinbeck
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“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist—but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you” - letter from Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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There is something innately creative about early morning skies. The day’s first light pulling the city out of the dark, spreading and expanding through the ether, shading purplish-orange up to solid pillow layered clouds. Reflective mists swirl a gray dirty dawn, filtering and following eerily shaped silhouettes of a complicated skyline. Outstretching steel and glass scratch the tops of the heavens. Monstrous concrete parking garages stack across the horizon. A deep tired sigh as the city wakes up. A quiet sitting waiting for an afternoon empty of art.
They rushed down the streets together digging everything in the early way they had which has later become so much sadder and perceptive.. but then they danced down the street like dingledodies and I shambled after as usual as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me - Jack Kerouac from On the Road (The Original Scroll)
This passage from “On the Road” is the right before one of the most often quoted passages of the book, the one that goes something like…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to breath, mad to eat, the ones who never yawn or say commonplace things, etc.
That famous passage leaped off the page when I first read the book. I liked it because it was raw and inspiring, and it seemed cool to read to a girl I was trying to impress. But as I was flipping through the book this weekend, I stopped at the sentence right before the famous sentence, which says something to the effect that looking back, everything Kerouac is about to explain in the book has no real meaning. I read the passage to mean that there is no pot of gold at the end of this mad rainbow. Instead, life is about the self-destructing/self-creating journey that is worth embarking on, even when later you look back on everything you have done and it seems much sadder and perceptive. For some reason, that gave me comfort today.
I had one of the strangest dreams of my life. I was in a deep disengaged sleep, having a foggy dream that is totally unrecoverable in the waking brain so I can’t remember anything except the dream had something to do with my mom. She was sick or hurt or dying, and I ran up to her and held her in my arms. I started crying and my dream became so violent that it woke me up. Everything was strange in the darkness – the room was pitch dark so I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or closed, if I was awake or still dreaming. I had a brief panic attack. There was nothing I could do. I finally found strength in my legs. Standing in the middle of my room, I began whimpering, trying to hug my arms around myself, having absolutely no idea where I was, shaking uncontrollably, with cheeks wet from real tears. I wanted to find my mom right away and talk to her to see if she was okay, but then I realized where I was and how far away I was from her, and there was nothing I could do. I tried to fall asleep, but ended up laying in bed until my alarm went off. I don’t remember the last time I cried.
I am reading the collected poems of Philip Larkin and fell in love with this poem:
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.