For (late) Sunday, January 3, 2016:
“A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.”
William Butler Yeats
Sometimes the universe’s plans and my plans do not coincide. Such is life, of course, and such was today. So for those of you who are still in today – some may not yet have reached today’s afternoon or evening – and those of you who are already into tomorrow and the work week, I thought I would offer some reminders-on-a-theme from great minds over the centuries about our craft. Perhaps they will serve as gentle encouragement to work ever harder in this new year.
I’ll start with the wise words from William Zinsser that lead off my ‘About’ page above: “Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.”
Thomas Mann said that “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people” (Essays of Three Decades).
“There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily” comes from Anthony Trollope, author of Barchester Towers (among others, all of which I highly recommend). Trollope was no stranger to hard work. He spent his nights writing after long days as a civil servant in Britain.
Nathaniel Hawthorne foreshadowed Zinsser: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
And my favorite (so far), maybe because it’s the oldest, comes from Geoffrey Chaucer in The Parliament of Birds. “The lyf so short,” he writes, “the craft so long to lerne.”
On a lighter note, this last comes from an unattributed meme on Facebook: “The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. ‘Because I think I’m making progress,’ he replied.”
So here’s to progress for all of us as we start a new year. Many blessings as together we continue to practice and ‘lerne’ our craft, as we stitch and unstitch our words so they seem but a moment’s thought.