"I should like, for myself, to put on record my devout acknowledgment not only of the great masterpieces of the past, but of the benefit of all poets, past and present, and of all poetic utterance—in its entirety the dominant moral factor of humanity’s progress. In view of that progress, and of evolution, the religious and æsthetic elements, the distinctive and most important of any, seem to me more indebted to poetry than to all other means and influences combined. In a very profound sense religion is the poetry of humanity. Then the points of union and rapport among all the poems and poets of the world, however wide their separations of time and place and theme, are much more numerous and weighty than the points of contrast.
Without relation as they may seem at first sight, the whole earth’s poets and poetry—en masse—the Oriental, the Greek, and what there is of Roman—the oldest myths—the interminable ballad-romances of the Middle Ages—the hymns and psalms of worship—the epics, plays, swarms of lyrics of the British Islands, or the Teutonic old or new—or modern French—or what there is in America, Bryant’s, for instance, or Whittier’s or Longfellow’s—the verse of all tongues and ages, all forms, all subjects, from primitive times to our own day inclusive—really combine in one aggregate and electric globe or universe, with all its numberless parts and radiations held together by a common centre or verteber.
To repeat it, all poetry thus has (to the point of view comprehensive enough) more features of resemblance than difference, and becomes essentially, like the planetary globe itself, compact and orbic and whole. Nature seems to sow countless seeds—makes incessant crude attempts—thankful to get now and then, even at rare and long intervals, something approximately good."
Here is a link to an interview with Madison Smartt Bell, one of my mentors and, happy to say, friends. We worked together at Goucher. He is a phenomenal writer/teacher, and he's just written a biography on Toussaint Louverture. His trilogy on the Haitian revolution (a fictionalized account) is a must-read. (Better save it for a summer read - they are long books - but worth it!)
I copied this quote from Rob Brezny's Free Will Astrology Newsletter (www.freewillastrology.com, if you haven't signed up for it you're falling behind on your spiritual evolvement).
"The notion that inspired play (even when audacious, offensive, or obscene) enhances rather than diminishes intellectual vigor and spiritual fulfillment, the notion that in the eyes of the gods the tight-lipped hero and the wet-cheeked victim are frequently inferior to the red-nosed clown, such notions are destined to be a hard sell to those who have E.M. Forster on their bedside table and a clump of dried narcissus up their ass.
"Not to worry. As long as words and ideas exist, there will be a few misfits who will cavort with them in a spirit of *approfondement*--if I may borrow that marvelous French word that translates roughly as "playing easily in the deep"--and in so doing they will occasionally bring to realization Kafka's belief that 'a novel should be an ax for the frozen seas around us.'"
-"In Defiance of Gravity" by Tom Robbins, *Harper's Magazine,* Sept 2004
Misfit - yes, that's you. Yes it is. Start cavorting.
I'm a big believer in the power of thinking your way to a good day and a good life. We can't control everything, but we can act in our lives rather than react as if we're victims or puppets or pawns. It's a little more work (lots easier to lie around complaining about how the world is against us, less risk there too), but worth it.
This applies double to our writing lives. Decide today that the world wants to and will hear your voice, somehow, somewhere, and get writing. Tell the stories you want to tell.
There's plenty of room and success for everyone. If you don't get in line for your share, you don't get a turn at the top.
Here's a quote to get you going:
"...what I focus on in life is what I get. And if I concentrate on how bad I am or how wrong I am or how inadequate I am, if I concentrate on what I can't do and how there's not enough time in which to do it, isn't that what I get every time? And when I think about how powerful I am, and when I think about what I have left to contribute, and when I think about the difference I can make on this planet, then that's what I get. You see, i recognize that it's not what happens to you; it's what you do about it."
"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession...Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
Every exit is an entry somewhere else. --Tom Stoppard
I learn by going where I have to go. --Theodore Roethke
Every noble work is, at first, impossible. --Thomas Carlyle
Creativity comes from accepting that you're not safe, from being absolutely aware and from letting go of control. It's a matter of seeing everything, even when you want to shut your eyes. --Madeleine L'Engle
Live all you can. It's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that, what have you had? --Henry James
Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window. --William Faulkner
The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. --Flannery O'Connor
What I adore is supreme professionalism. I am bored by writers who can write only when it is raining. --Noel Coward
I think a little menace is fine to have in a story. For one thing, it's good for the circulation. --Raymond Carver