Teaching's in my DNA · The Writing Life · Words to Live By · Write Already!

We’re in this writing thing together

I am a collector of quotations. Who better to comment on the writing life than those who have struggled through it, right?

Ah, but my high school students aren’t so sure, especially at the beginning of the school year. They don’t get it. I share a quotation and get blank looks.

“So what does this mean?” I ask. They hesitate, thinking that I want the “right” answer. As you know, there there kind of isn’t one.

Oh, an opinion question? That changes everything. Feel the relief. And listen to the ideas pour out.

Care to try your hand at this? Here are some from Monday’s class. What secrets of the writing life are laid bare?

Last year's purple book shows how thick each of these will be.
I make fat “writing textbooks” for my students

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” (Joseph Heller)

You are not alone in your struggle with the blank page.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” (Leonardo Da Vinci)

You’ll never feel quite done.
And you’ll always notice your mistakes, even in published work.

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Ah, inadequacy.
Yes, that feeling is part of the deal.

“My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people second.” (John D. MacDonald)

Make sure that one person likes what you write—you!

“The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.”(George Eliot)

So somebody has to write the books, the movies, the television shows for the next generation. Might as well be you, right?
Oh, and you’ll never feel quite adequate for the task.
Write anyway.

Do you like this idea for a series? I do. I’ll share more over the coming weeks. Or months.

14 thoughts on “We’re in this writing thing together

    1. This is true for all the creative artists.

      Oh, sigh.

      And yet I wonder, do you feel this way about your musical performances, Robin? When one is the composer, is the self-criticism worse?

      Feeling inadequate is part of the deal.

      Dang.

      Like

  1. “You’ll never feel quite done.”
    Whenever I write a piece to submit, I allow my writing to rest overnight. If I question something, I ask the question and then sleep on it. Surprisingly, the answer or a better way to word something shows up bymorning. So I revise. I let it rest again and then edit once more. Every time my work rests and I look again, I find something else to change. I wonder how I will ever know I have reached that point called “done.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean. And yet, I have discovered that it is possible to edit all the life and zing out of a scene.

      I described to my students how it is when a toddler does a finger painting. Mom has to lift the paper off the high chair tray or else the lovely “painting” will be a muddy mess of nothing.

      When to do this? is the question. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  2. I’m with da Vinci, sort of. With art, you’re never done, you just have to choose at some point to stop. (I get to the point where I feel like I’m making changes but not necessarily making it better. Then I have to put down the metaphorical pencil and pour a cocktail.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A friend who is a singer told me this exact thing, about stopping. As I said to Pat (above), I can edit until the life is gone from the scene—kind of like dry cleaning a garment to death or something.

      So sometimes less smoothing of words is more…but how can I tell?

      Gah.

      Nice to know that even someone like Da Vinci knew that at some point he had to walk away.

      Like

    1. “This class is easy until it’s hard,” is a quotation of my own.

      Sometimes we do such fun activities, like analyze movies. Then the stories are due, ouch. Late nights for procrastinators. Because students cannot hide, and I demand a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the idea very much. I also collect quotations. My favorite quote on writing is from Seamus Heaney who said “if you have the words there is always the chance that you will find the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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