love an artist

September 28, 2019

This is what it is to love an artist: The moon is always rising above your house. The houses of your neighbours look dull and lacking in moonlight. But he is always going away from you. Inside his head there is always something more beautiful.

Sarah Ruhl
Eurydice

Being an artist separates you from things in general. One’s mind is working at a faster, more sensitive, more rapid, eye-batting level than most people’s. Most people, let’s say, have ten perceptions per minute, whereas an artist has about sixty or seventy perceptions per minute. I think that’s honestly the reason why so many writers drink or take pills or whatever: to calm themselves down, to quiet this continuous, rapid-running machine. I know that’s why Tennessee Williams did. He had to take sedatives and drinks like that because he had one of the most rapid-running, perceptive minds. He didn’t sleep very well.

Truman Capote
Conversations with Capote

being a writer

June 2, 2019

The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living. My short stories and novels have always filled my life with meaning, but, at least in the first decade of my career, they were no more capable of supporting me than my dog was. But part of what I love about both novels and dogs is that they are so beautifully oblivious to economic concerns. We serve them, and in return they thrive. It isn’t their responsibility to figure out where the rent is coming from.

Ann Patchett
This is the story of a happy marriage

I am in the path of Blake, but so far behind him that only the wings on his heels are in sight. I have been writing since I was a very little boy, and have always been struggling with the same things, with the idea of poetry as a thing entirely removed from such accomplishments as ‘word-painting,’ and the setting down of delicate but usual emotions in a few, well-chosen words. There must be no compromise; there is always only the one right word: use it, despite its foul or merely ludicrous associations; I used ‘double-crossed’ because it was what I meant. It is part of a poet’s job to take a debauched and prostituted word, like the beautiful word, ‘blond,’ and to smooth away the lines of its dissipation, and to put it on the market again, fresh and virgin. Neuburg blabs of some unsectarian region in the clouds where poetry reaches its highest level. He ruins the truth of that by saying that the artist must, of necessity, preach socialism. There is no necessity for the artist to do anything. There is no necessity. He is a law unto himself, and his greatness or smallness rises or falls by that. He has only one limitation, and that is the widest of all: the limitation of form. Poetry finds its own form; form should never be superimposed; the structure should rise out of the words and the expression of them. I do not want to express only what other people have felt; I want to rip something away and show what they have never seen. Because of the twist in myself I will never be a very good poet: only treading the first waves, putting my hands in deeper and then taking them out again.

Dylan Thomas
Letter to Pamela Hansford Johnson 15th October 1933

going to be a writer

January 23, 2018

Tony Foster

My father was the editor of an agricultural magazine called The Southern Planter. He didn’t think of himself as a writer. He was a scientist, an agronomist, but I thought of him as a writer because I’d seen him working at his desk. I just assumed that I was going to do that, that I was going to be a writer. There’s an enormous advantage in having (mistakenly or not) the impression that you have a vocation very early because from that time forward you begin to focus all of your energies towards this goal. The only other thing I ever considered from six on was to become an artist, something my mother had encouraged me to do.

Tom Wolfe
Interview with George Plimpton for Paris Review Spring 1991

the artist’s responsibility

November 22, 2016

reflections

The artist seeks contact with his intuitive sense of the gods, but in order to create his work, he cannot stay in this seductive and incorporeal realm. He must return to the material world in order to do his work. It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labour of creation.

Patti Smith
Just Kids

human shambles

November 15, 2016

artist-at-work

What’s any artist, but the dregs of his work? the human shambles that follows it around. What’s left of the man when the work’s done but a shambles of apology.

William Gaddis
The Recognitions

Hurt your parents…

June 3, 2015

implode

“If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut
A Man Without a Country