Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Over my desk

The beginning of this was familiar to me, but the nots at the end -- not even needing to believe in yourself, always feeling a "divine dissatisfaction" that keeps you marching -- were new. They are what I find most helpful now.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” -- Martha Graham

I don't think artists are any more alive than other people, but love the idea that discontent "that keeps us marching." In me it translates into  "I can make this better on the second draft." Logically I know that hardly anybody gets it right on the first one, though like many writers, I believe that for everyone else, it flows easily and that only I plod along.

Often I think that the only part of writing I can control is the sitting down and doing it....or in the great words of Jane Yolen, "BIC -- butt in chair." (btw Jane! If you ever read this blog! I am in Scotland too and have been since mid-April.) But Martha Graham reminds me that I can also TRY to "keep the channel open" -- focus, concentrate. 

This a friend has over HER desk and I've put it over mine, too:
"The place God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
I like the idea of writing from that place, or rather, trying to! Whether I can or not, the quote is a good reminder to write about what matters to me. It reminds me not to be satisfied with chatter,  but to write only when something that feels important   -- true -- right -- just comes.

That doesn't have to be anything deep or heavy, things that are funny and fun are needed, too. They're just as important as serious things. Maybe MORE important -- yes, I know grim dystopias are popular now, but there is a need for lighthearted joy, too. As Matilda said,
what was wrong with CS Lewis was that there were "no funny bits. Children are not so serious as grown-ups and like to laugh."

What do you have over your desk that inspires or encourages you?


alissa imre geis said...

One of my friends, who is working her way through an intense acting workshop wrote recently:

"Work with precision and specificity"

I keep coming back to this, to getting small details correct.

To finding names for everyday objects I've used but never needed to name, like the "drop bolt" on a wrought iron gate that keeps it from swinging.

To describing moments and single movements, like making the individual drawings for a zoetrope, without precision there is no motion, but at the same time, you only need a handful of drawings for the illusion to work.

Anonymous said...

I have this quote posted above my desk:

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."
~EE Cummings

As a writer, juggler, and children's entertainer, I am fortunate to live my dream.

alvinaling said...

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I have "follow your compass, not your clock" above my desk! I also have "keep calm and smiling" and "calm patience no matter what"--the latter two are reminders when negotiating or having difficult conversations at work.