For Tuesday, September 12, 2017:
… I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work — the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to
Sol LeWitt, in a 1965 letter to sculptor Eva Hesse
For Friday, September 8, 2017:
From the most serious to the most comic, the simplest to the most baroque, the most personal to the most political, poems alter the landscape of the given. This tilting of ordinary reality and ordinary expectation is the gesture that lives in the ink of art’s first impulse.
Jane Hirshfield, ‘The American Poetry Review,’ Sept/Oct 2017
For Tuesday, September 5, 2017:
The heart of it is something very complex, that has to do with ideas of destiny, and with an almost inexpressible feeling that I am merely an instrument through which something has happened — that I’ve had little to do with it myself.
Rachel Carson, on the writer’s ultimate task
For Friday, September 1, 2017:
What a singular moment is the first [dream], when you have hardly begun to recollect yourself, after starting from midnight slumber! By unclosing your eyes so suddenly … you find yourself, for a single instant, wide awake in that realm of illusions, whither sleep has been the passport, and behold its ghostly inhabitants and wondrous scenery, with a perception of their strangeness, such as you never attain while the dream is undisturbed.
… If you could choose an hour of wakefulness out of the whole night, it would be this.
For Tuesday, August 29, 2017:
Fashion is above all an art of change.
Sign above a shop on Cambridge Common in Boston, Massachusetts
For Friday, August 25, 2017:
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.
Toni Morrison, “No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear,” in the 150th anniversary issue of The Nation.
For Tuesday, August 22, 2017:
You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.
For Friday, August 18, 2017:
“To lose the appetite for meaning we call thinking and cease to ask unanswerable questions [would be to] lose not only the ability to produce those thought-things that we call works of art but also the capacity to ask all the answerable questions upon which every civilization is founded.”
For Tuesday, August 15, 2013:
What matters is the book itself. If it is as good a book as you can write at this moment in time, that is what counts. Success is pleasant; of course you want it, but it isn’t what makes you write.
Madeleine L’Engle, A CIRCLE OF QUIET
For Friday, August 11, 2017:
Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing to do is shovel shit from a sitting position.
(except for the period, punctuation is mine)