The Prompter Room

For Friday, January 4, 2019:

 

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable — but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016, with a Journal of a Writers Week

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The Prompter Room

For Sunday, March 13, 2016:

 

“Go into the arts.  I’m not kidding.  The arts are not a way to make a living.  They are a very human way of making life more bearable.  Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.  Sing in the shower.  Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  You will get an enormous reward.  You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Well, there you have it: ‘for heaven’s sake.’

Yes, practicing an art makes our souls grow, but it does more than that, as wonderful as that is.  Writing a poem, painting a picture or photographing one, singing, dancing, and so much more, makes heaven grow!

The theologian in me believes that God created us, humankind, in his and her image, and that generous spirit thus invites us to be co-creators through our art.  Longtime followers here know how important hospitality is for me – with others and in our writing.  I believe, then, that the Creator’s invitation to participate in acts of creation, too, however grand or small they may be, is one of great love and hospitality.  We are welcomed into the creative process.  We are encouraged in that process.  How can our souls do anything but grow in such an environment, such a practice?

Whether Vonnegut intended those three little words in the way I take them or not, I’ll never know.  If he didn’t – if he meant them in the same way as ‘I’m not kidding’ – I’m glad he included them, for I think he found the crux of the matter anyway.  We are to create for heaven’s sake, and for the world’s sake, and for ours.

When we accept that arms-wide-open, generous, loving, and creative invitation, I can see the eyes of heaven smile inside our souls.  I can even feel it.  Can’t you?

The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, March 8, 2016:

 

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it.  Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight.”

Ursula K. LeGuin

It’s hard for me to believe, but I started this site ten months ago, and this daily feature of a writing prompt five or six months ago.  My purpose in both is summed up in Ms. LeGuin’s statement above.  I wanted then, and I want now, to serve as a writing companion for other writers, some of whom may be starting out, some of whom may be struggling, some  who may just want company in this sometimes-solitary work we do and who might keep me company.

When I started this venture, my hope was that, via the blogging universe, I could reach others who care about words and writing and creativity as much as I do, or more.  I hoped I could help one or two sister or brother writers move closer to fulfilling their dreams.  If I could do that on occasion, then I could count this adventure a success.

Well, apparently I have managed to do that, at least once in a while.  Others’ feedback and responses have all been generous and positive – sometimes glowing, if I may say so – and I appreciate that more than I can say.  It keeps me going.  Thank you!

Thank you, too, to the two bloggers who recently nominated my blog for two separate awards!   I’m still new enough to this form of community that I need to figure out how to accept these accolades, but when I do, there should be some ‘bling’ here on the site somewhere.  I’m looking forward to that – I may be old, but I still enjoy some fun once in a while!

Thank you to everyone who’s been along on this journey, and I hope you will continue.  It delights me no end that all of us care enough about words – our own and others’ – that we come together through our blogs to help each other and keep each other company.

Bless you all!

~~ Genie

 

The Prompter Room

For Sunday, February 21, 2016:

 

“Whether fame or notoriety is your fate [as a writer], put it behind you and put the typewriter in front of you.  And put next to your typewriter these words from Albert Einstein: ‘The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.'”

Rita Mae Brown – STARTING FROM SCRATCH: A DIFFERENT KIND OF WRITERS’ MANUAL

True confessions time: Sometimes I feel envious when I see accounts of people younger than me who ‘make it’ and are successful in the eyes of the world.  This is especially true when I know for a fact their writing is no better, and sometimes worse, than mine.

I’m sorry, I can’t help it.  I’m human.

It’s not that I seek fame – I sure as heck don’t seek notoriety! – but I confess the idea of walking down the streets of our small town and having folks come up to me and say ‘Oh, you’re the writer I’ve heard about!  May I get your autograph?’ would be kind of nice.  Once in a while.

I’m too much of an introvert for that kind of a thing to happen too often, but I don’t think I need to worry about it.  (In my daydreams, though, I’m much more extroverted …)

There’s nothing wrong with daydreams.  We all have them – is there a writer who hasn’t dreamed of winning a Pulitzer, or a National Book Award, or (be honest) a Nobel in Literature?   We’re writers.  Don’t we spend a lot of time in various permutations of a fantasy world?  Those daydreams galvanize us, serve as a bit of a spark, something to strive for.

But we also have those aspirations because we read the award-winning works of others, and liked – or, flip side, didn’t like and thought we could do better – what we read. Perhaps when we started out, we (okay, I) wanted to have what they have,  but I like to think at least a little part of us wanted to do what they do just for the sake of doing it.  We wanted to participate in this grand vocation called writing, too.

Henry Miller has a good reminder, one I need to keep beside Einstein’s words: “Writing is its own reward.”  The older I get and the longer I write, the more I know this is true.  Seeking, or even waiting for, fame does corrupt.  It can stifle our creativity, stop us in our tracks.  Rita Mae Brown also says,  “[N]ever hope more than you work.”

So I try to check my envy at the door every time the nasty thing nudges its way into my thinking.  I’m getting better, I must say.  I know for sure that success doesn’t mean fame and fortune.  It means reaching that one person, whom I may never meet, with my words at the very time s/he needs to read them.

I’m blessed to know that has happened on more than one occasion.  When I’m not too busy fantasizing, and when I’m honest with myself, that truly is reward enough for me.

I confess that I might keep hoping – if anyone from high school reads this, I might be convinced to accept that alumni award (just sayin’) – but I also know I must keep working so one person ‘out there’ will receive what I write when s/he needs it. Because I love to write.

The Prompter Room

For Sunday, February 14, 2016:

 

“I’ve always associated the moment of writing with a moment of lift, of joy, of unexpected reward.”

Seamus Heaney

Maybe it’s because Heaney is a poet, but for some reason this quote evoked an ‘a ha’ moment for me when I found it this morning.  I’ve long held that writing is about relationship, but whenever I write about it or explain it, I’ve said that relationship is between the writer and the reader.  Somehow or other Heaney’s words showed me that’s not the only connection.  There’s an even deeper connection: between the writer and her words, and between the words and the self.  Duh!

For some reason, the word ‘righteousness’ popped into my head as I read this quote.  In theological terms, ‘righteousness’ is ‘right relationship with God.’  Taking that intuitive flash a little deeper, then, does that mean that my process of writing is righteous, a right relationship with myself?  If so, I like that!  It feels … right.

This is so fresh, I’m still working it out as I write, so I’m afraid it’s going to be stream-of-consciousness …

I’m trying to go from the image and concept of a triangular relationship to one that’s more like a labyrinth, where we go from the hard angles and straight, stiff lines to a soft center.  I hope I don’t mangle the metaphor here, but one must jump on or off the triangle to get on or leave, whereas one eases one’s way in and out of a labyrinth.  There’s a place to rest in the center.  We can’t get lost – it’s not a maze.  A labyrinth is a circle of always-visible pathways, not a rigid form with walls that keep us blind.

I think I’ll have to leave this here for a while – there’s way too much external distraction just now for deeper reflection – and let this new insight move around a little and find room to grow …