For Friday, July 20, 2018:
Every writer of fiction wants to tell many stories, but we know that we can’t tell all the stories — certainly not simultaneously. We know we must pick one story, well, one central story; we have to be selective. The art of the writer is to find as much as one can in that story, in that sequence … in that time (the timeline of the story), in that space (the concrete geography of the story).
Susan Sontag, AT THE SAME TIME: ESSAYS AND SPEECHES
For Wednesday, July 18, 2018 (with apologies for being a day late due to medical issues):
Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer, [for] it presupposes faith and love.
For Friday, July 13, 2018:
… Sound and light being associated in my young mind of fifty years ago with divine operations by means of which man communicates with man, beast with beast, stars with stars, and man with his Creator, it is obvious that I meditated much about the nature of sound and of light. I still believe that these modes of communication are the fundamental operations in the physical universe and I am still meditating about their nature.
Michael Pupin, FROM IMMIGRANT TO INVENTOR
For Tuesday, July 10, 2018:
The one who follows the crowd will usually go no [farther] than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.
For Friday, July 6, 2018:
One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Don’t hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The very impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
Annie Dillard – ‘A Writer in the World,’ THE ABUNDANCE: ESSAYS OLD AND NEW
For Tuesday, July 3, 2018:
… When I’m sitting down to write a poem I’m not thinking of anyone. I’m not thinking about how it will be received. I’m not thinking it will make people happy or it will inspire them. I’m in a whole other world. A world of complete solitude. But when I’m writing a song I imagine performing it. I imagine giving it. It’s a different aspect of communication. It’s for the people.
Patti Smith – interview for More Songwriters on Songwriting at BrainPickings.org
For Friday, June 29, 2018:
If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced 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. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that make a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.”
John Steinbeck, STEINBECK: A LIFE IN LETTERS
For Tuesday, June 26, 2018:
Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!
Rainer Maria Rilke, LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET
For Friday, June 22, 2018:
… Literature is the house of nuance and contrariness against the voices of simplification. The job of the writer is to make it harder to believe the mental despoilers. The job of the writer is to make us see the world as it is, full of many different claims and parts and experiences.
It is the job of the writer to depict the realities: the foul realities, the realities of rapture. It is the essence of the wisdom furnished by literature (the plurality of literary achievement) to help us to understand that, whatever is happening, something else is always going on.
Susan Sontag – 2001 Jerusalem Prize acceptance speech, ‘The Conscience of Words,’ AT THE SAME TIME: ESSAYS AND SPEECHES
For Tuesday, June 19, 2018:
You can recognize a deep truth by the feature that its opposite is also a deep truth.
Frank Wilczek, Nobel physicist