The Prompter Room

For Friday, June 9, 2017:

 

It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books … There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The American Scholar,’ ESSAYS AND LECTURES

The Prompter Room

For Thursday, March 17, 2016:

 

“In order to be created, a work of art must first make use of the dark forces of the soul.”

Albert Camus

Chapter Four of my MA thesis started with this quote.  I don’t remember the title of the chapter now, but the purpose was to explore the common perception that artists are – must be – at least a little ‘crazy.’  Looking back, it’s almost as if I knew what was going to happen.

As many people observe and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today, I remember a friend who was in the same MA program I was.  Anne Marie used to love St. Paddy’s Day.  Every stitch of clothing she wore on March 17th was some shade of green.  On this one day of the year, it didn’t matter if the shades matched – if it was green, she wore it.  She put jeweled shamrocks in her ears, on her fingers, around her wrists.  She was half Irish – the other half was Italian – and proud of it.  She even named her foundling dog Biddie, a nod to her mother Bridget’s nickname.

Actually Biddie found Anne Marie.  At a particularly dark time in Anne Marie’s life, this little malnourished and partially lame dog somehow found the strength to jump into Anne Marie’s car in the middle of a snowstorm.  Anne Marie did all the right things: she notified Animal Control and all the local veterinarians, she called and spoke to neighbors, she put a notice in the newspaper and on bulletin boards in her area.  After two weeks of no responses, she and Biddie finally settled in and helped each other with pure shining love.

Anne Marie was one of the most creative people I have ever known.  She had a lovely voice – both her Irish and Italian sides really came together there – and she played a beautiful guitar.  She wrote songs and composed poetry, both funny and sad, both biting and touching.  One room in her small house was filled to the rafters with her stash of fabrics for the stunning quilts she crafted (where all the greens and other colors matched and complemented each other) and materiel for any possibility of something creative.  Her IQ had to have been off-the-charts high, and her imagination was right there with it.

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The Prompter Room

For Sunday, January 17, 2016:

 

“A writer can do nothing for [readers] more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibilities of their own souls.”

Walt Whitman

Yesterday, as I finished up the line edits in the current draft of my new novel, I began to worry that the storyline isn’t exciting enough, or fast-paced or graphic enough, to hold the interest of today’s readers.  Early this morning I lay awake, reviewing it chapter by chapter in my head, with the same worries.

At the same time, I tell myself, this book kind of wrote itself – or, rather, the characters did.  It’s not saccharine-sweet, but it’s also not filled with violence or sex or technological wonders.  Instead it is about possibilities and growth.

This is an optimistic story.  There is conflict, there is mystery, there’s a little fantasy, and ultimately the characters took me to a place of hope.  The book may not attract readers who are drawn to thrillers or the entanglements of power and intrigue, but I take heart from Whitman’s words.  I’m also encouraged by this from Wally Lamb:

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.”

I think the book IS true.  Certainly the characters feel true, to themselves and to the story they told me.  So when it’s time, I hope an audience will find it.  Even if it’s an audience of one.

More importantly, I think, I need to remain true to the characters, the story, the book, and I need to make them the best they can be.   Because I believe in them, and I believe in possibilities.  And because they’re already telling me more.  It seems they want a second book.

The Prompter Room

For Saturday, December 19, 2015:

 

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.”

Kurt Vonnegut

I know this to be true myself.  You may have read elsewhere here that I am not an artist (as in painter or one who draws), but putting a brush to canvas feeds my soul in a way that writing doesn’t.  Maybe because I’m exercising a different creative part of the brain, one that opens up potential new ways of seeing, doing, and being.  It’s almost as if a breath of fresh air breezes through for a few minutes and I feel freer.

I’m usually confident enough in my words that I’m willing to disseminate them to the masses, if I think others might be interested.  Few if any people, though, ever see my attempts to put anything other than words on paper.  But that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I do it … at least once in a while.

Maya Angelou has written, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then, when you know better, do better.”  Go, therefore, and do it!