Trembling With Excitement and Ecstasy

If you know me personally, you know how much I love words.  I love reading them.  I love writing them. I love it when they are given as a gift from the heart.  I love how they somehow string together to touch hearts in books, in poetry in lyrics and letters.  I treasure a love note, like some women treasure diamonds and gold.  It's fascinating to me how words come together to create something out of nothing, how they can be understood or completely misunderstood based on interpretation and how their meaning can change with inflection, punctuation, and sometimes... an author's intention.  Words are a craft.  One I hone every day, in some form or another. They've been elusive lately. But I feel them coming back... and I tremble.

When I was a little girl, living in Southern California, I used to walk several city blocks in our neighborhood to a park, that had a library right beside it.  I smile when I think of it now. The library was actually across a very busy main road and you got there by traveling on a covered footbridge, over the road from the park, and back down again to the other side. It was all concrete steps and chain link fencing but in my little girl mind, I was crossing a moat to get to the sweeping library with brocade drapes and books from floor to ceiling in a castle surrounded by a moat, and a beautiful rose garden.  (someone plucked that scene from Beauty and the Beast right out of my head!) I loved that place.  It was my favorite escape and I would wander for hours choosing stories to read, often plopping right down on the floor in front of a bookshelf with one, to sample it.  And I trembled.

Vincent Van Gogh once said of William Shakespeare, 

How beautiful Shakespeare is, who else is as mysterious as he is; his language and method are like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy.

I think that is just about one of the nicest ways of describing a writer's work, as I have ever heard.  And I tremble.:)

Say It Hot

Be still when you have nothing to say; but when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot.

D. H. Lawrence said it first, but I've repeated it maybe once or twice.;-) He was controversial, no doubt, but listen to what his friend Catherine Carswell had to say when summing up his life after his passing (Copied directly from Wikipedia)

"In the face of formidable initial disadvantages and life-long delicacy, poverty that lasted for three quarters of his life and hostility that survives his death, he did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did. He went all over the world, he owned a ranch, he lived in the most beautiful corners of Europe, and met whom he wanted to meet and told them that they were wrong and he was right. He painted and made things, and sang, and rode. He wrote something like three dozen books, of which even the worst page dances with life that could be mistaken for no other man's, while the best are admitted, even by those who hate him, to be unsurpassed. Without vices, with most human virtues, the husband of one wife, scrupulously honest, this estimable citizen yet managed to keep free from the shackles of civilization and the cant of literary cliques. He would have laughed lightly and cursed venomously in passing at the solemn owls—each one secretly chained by the leg—who now conduct his inquest. To do his work and lead his life in spite of them took some doing, but he did it, and long after they are forgotten, sensitive and innocent people—if any are left—will turn Lawrence's pages and will know from them what sort of a rare man Lawrence was."

That last sentence is profoundly worth chewing on.

Fight Your Way Through

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. 

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. - Ira Glass