Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quoteskimming

This week I have such an abundance of quotes that I am myself nearly speechless.

Last Sunday, at "The Art of Illustration" event in Haverford, PA, I sat in on a presentation by Brian Biggs, who is a most entertaining fellow. He said a lot of great things about illustrating and publishing books, but the quote that really resonated with me had to do with parenting. When asked to what he credits his success as an illustrator, Brian replied:

"I give credit to my parents for never telling me that I couldn't do it."


L.K. Madigan is so talented that she's actually had an entire quoteskimming post devoted to her before. Last week, she put up one of the funniest, cleverest posts about internal criticism that I've ever read, which she entitled "The Tim Gunn in My Head". You really ought to read the post in its entirety, but here's the start to give you a bit of flavor:

Project Novel

Tim enters the revision studio, dapper as always. “Good morning, everyone,” he says. “I’m here to check your progress.”

He approaches Lisa’s work space. “Tell me about this,” he says, eyeing the uneven pacing of the plot.

“Well,” says Lisa, “It’s a YA fantasy.”

Tim peers over his glasses at Lisa. “A fantasy? I thought you were planning to write another realistic YA contemporary."

“I did! I mean, I was. It … the spark is still there, but the premise was a little too edgy.”

“Too edgy?” Tim’s gaze is piercing. “So you just threw it away and started all over on something new?”

My good friend and writing buddy posted about first drafts earlier this week in three or four separate posts. I decided not to pick the one with all the excellent, concrete advice or the one involving duct tape; I have selected her rather scatalogical post involving Anne Lamott instead:

“The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?” you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means.” - Anne Lamott

Occasionally Mr. Poopy Pants poops all over my page, but that's okay, it's just a first draft. I'll clean up the mess later. At least my page isn't blank anymore.

Mandy Taylor has been reading some Emerson for school, and she posted this quote of his earlier in the week. Turns out even Ralph Waldo Emerson had bad writing days:

"Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day, I am full of thoughts and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world: but, yesterday, I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages. Alas for this infirm faith, this will not strenuous, this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature; I am a weed by the wall."

I hope that none of you are "a weed by the wall" in your writing today.

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