Russia, rose, read

June 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm (Uncategorized)

There’s something about writers’ quotes that can made me frown. I know, I know, quite a lot makes me frown – stilt walkers, people who use inhale as a noun, Radiohead. But quotes from other writers tend to make me feel like I’m missing something; that my writing process is not quite as dewy eyed and strewn with rose petals as theirs.

I am not a beatific writer. I scowl, and I yank at my hair when I’m thinking, scattering long fiery strands across the keyboard . I pour whiskey in my coffee when I think the cat isn’t looking, and I sit cross legged in an old Russian punk T-shirt that could have done with a wash, well, some time ago. It ain’t pretty. So to read quotes like the following is sometimes just what I need.

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.

I don’t know anything about Anne Lamott – don’t know what kind of books she writes, or whether I’d like them. But I know I like her quotes, and the sentiment behind them.

The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little.

I smiled back at her. I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.

A hundred years from now?
All new people.

He is a writer. He makes the rest of them nervous.

I have a Medusa tattoo with thirteen snakes writhing down my left arm and could, if need be, win gold in the scowling Olympics (oh, please let there be such a thing!).

Matt Burke Photography

However, there are times when I catch sight of myself reflected in the computer screen, hand on throat, leaning towards my words with such a gentle smile at the sentences I’ve just made hold hands and line up across the page.

There are moments when I am writing when I think that if other people knew how I felt right now, they’d burn me at the stake for feeling so good.

This one, I understand completely. What do you know? Maybe rose petals and Russian punk don’t have to cancel each other out, after all.


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