One of my compulsions is to 'collect' quotations. I'd like to share a few which have struck me over recent months . . .
I could not simplify myself.
IVAN TURGENEV From Nezhdanov’s suicide note in Virgin Soil
We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.
HENRY JAMES From The Middle Years
The deeper the feeling, the greater the pain.
LEONARDO DA VINCI
How many times now
have I crossed over hill crests
with the image
of blossoms leading me on —
toward nothing but white clouds?
FUJIWARA NO SHUNZEI (1114-1204)
The Lord walks among the pots and pans.
ST TERESA OF AVILA
At this stage in my life, I think it's all about the soft stuff. I don't give a damn about what you know or what you do if you can't be kind. I want the art of you before I'll tangle with the science of you. Talk to me so that I might know who you are. Be naked in the vocabulary of kindness.
Everbody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
A writer is not so much someone who has something to say
as . . . someone who has found a process that will bring about new
things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say
My morning writing would begin for me by getting up about four
o'clock . . . I lie down on the living room couch in front of a
big picture window which looks out on our quiet neighbourhood.
The giant fir trees, . . . rhododendrons and so on outside. I'm lying
there relaxed, I have a blank sheet in front of me. I put the date on
top, and I start letting whatever swims into my attention get
written down on the page . . . I welcome anything that comes along.
I don't have any standards . . . I am not trying to contend for a
place in magazines or in books. I'm just letting my attention flow
where it wants to flow. And the relaxation of it is part of the charm
. . . if you're lost enough, then the experience of now is your guide
to what comes next. None of us knows what comes the next second.
Let me plead, not for ignoring advice from wherever it comes, but
for allowing in your own life the freedom to pay attention to your
feelings while finding your way through language . . . Into the
unknown you must plunge, carrying your compass . . . You must
make 'mistakes'; that is, you must explore what has not been
mapped out for you . . . Like Don Quixote . . . you must loosen the
reins and go blundering into adventures that await any traveller
in this multilevel world . . . and like Don Quixote you must expect
some disasters. You must write your bad poems and stories; for to
write carefully as you rove forward is to guarantee that you will
not find the unknown, the risky, the surprising. Art is an activity in
which the actual feel of doing it must be your guide; hence the
need for confidence, courage, independence.
Armor is fine, but it keeps you from knowing what the weather is like.
You're perfect as you are — and there's always room for improvement.