I am not thinking of those shining precepts which are the registered property of every school; that is to say learn as much by writing as by reading; be not content with the best book; seek sidelights from the others; have no favourites; keep men and things apart; guard against the prestige of great names; see that your judgments are your own; and do not shrink from disagreement; no trusting without testing; be more severe to ideas than to actions; do not overlook the strength of the bad cause of the weakness of the good; never be surprised by the crumbling of an idol or the disclosure of a skeleton; judge talent at its best and character at its worst; suspect power more than vice, and study problems in preference to periods.
Write knowledge since you cant memorize unless with writing. Heart confides to written.
The poems I am writing at the moment will be much closer to your present way of thinking.I am trying to renew poetic style,but within a classical framework.On the other hand,I don't want to lapse into imitating others.Letter to Picasso 1918.
Why am I compelled to write? Because the writing saves me from this complacency I fear. Because I have no choice. Because I must keep the spirit of my revolt and myself alive. Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it.
I wrote the first book, Harvest of Stars, and as I was writing it, I saw that certain implications had barely been touched on... It's perfectly obvious that two completely revolutionary things are going on, with cybernetics, and biological science.
As I was writing about Grace Marks, and about her interlude in the Asylum, I came to see her in context the context of other people's opinions, both the popular images of madness and the scientific explanations for it available at the time. A lot of what was believed and said on the subject appears like sheer lunacy to us now. But we shouldn't be too arrogant how many of our own theories will look silly when those who follow us have come up with something better? But whatever the scientists may come up with, writers and artists will continue to portray altered mental states, simply because few aspects of our nature fascinate people so much. The so-called mad person will always represent a possible future for every member of the audience who knows when such a malady may strike? When "mad," at least in literature, you aren't yourself; you take on another self, a self that is either not you at all, or a truer, more elemental one than the person you're used to seeing in the mirror. You're in danger of becoming, in Shakespeare's works, a mere picture or beast, and in Susanna Moodie's words, a mere machine; or else you may become an inspired prophet, a truth-sayer, a shaman, one who oversteps the boundaries of the ordinarily visible and audible, and also, and especially, the ordinarily sayable. Portraying this process is deep power for the artist, partly because it's a little too close to the process of artistic creation itself, and partly because the prospect of losing our self and being taken over by another, unfamiliar self is one of our deepest human fears.
I no longer feel I'll be dead by thirty; now it's sixty. I suppose these deadlines we set for ourselves are really a way of saying we appreciate time, and want to use all of it. I'm still writing, I'm still writing poetry, I still can't explain why, and I'm still running out of time. Wordsworth was sort of right when he said, "Poets in their youth begin in gladness/ But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness." Except that sometimes poets skip the gladness and go straight to the despondency. Why is that? Part of it is the conditions under which poets work giving all, receiving little in return from an age that by and large ignores them and part of it is cultural expectation "The lunatic, the lover and the poet," says Shakespeare, and notice which comes first. My own theory is that poetry is composed with the melancholy side of the brain, and that if you do nothing but, you may find yourself going slowly down a long dark tunnel with no exit. I have avoided this by being ambidextrous: I write novels too. But when I find myself writing poetry again, it always has the surprise of that first unexpected and anonymous gift.
After a year or two of keeping my head down and trying to pass myself off as a normal person, I made contact with the five other people at my university who were interested in writing; and through them, and some of my teachers, I discovered that there was a whole subterranean Wonderland of Canadian writing that was going on just out of general earshot and sight.
I will pass over my flirtation with journalism as a way of making a living, an idea I dropped when I discovered that in the fifties unlike now female journalists always ended up writing the obituaries and the ladies' page. But how was I to make a living? There was not a roaring market in poetry, there, then. I thought of running away and being a waitress, which I later tried, but got very tired and thin; there's nothing like clearing away other people's mushed-up dinners to make you lose your appetite
The day I became a poet was a sunny day of no particular ominousness. I was walking across the football field, not because I was sports-minded or had plans to smoke a cigarette behind the field house the only other reason for going there but because this was my normal way home from school. I was scuttling along in my usual furtive way, suspecting no ill, when a large invisible thumb descended from the sky and pressed down on the top of my head. A poem formed. It was quite a gloomy poem: the poems of the young usually are. It was a gift, this poem a gift from an anonymous donor, and, as such, both exciting and sinister at the same time. I suspect this is the way all poets begin writing poetry, only they don't want to admit it, so they make up more rational explanations. But this is the true explanation, and I defy anyone to disprove it.
Before my eyes are many miserable scenes, the suffering of others and myself forces my hands to move. I become a machine for writing.
A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.
I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper exactly what one would say to the same person by word of mouth.
For some time I debated over whether I should start these memoirs at the beginning or at the end, that is, whether I should put my birth or my death in first place. Since common usage would call for beginning with birth, two considerations led me to adopt a different method: the first is that I am not exactly a writer who is dead but a dead man who is a writer, for whom the grave was a second cradle; the second is that the writing would be more distinctive and novel in that way. Moses, who also wrote about his death, didn't place it at the opening but at the close: a radical difference between this book and the Pentateuch.
Writing graffiti is about the most honest way you can be an artist. It takes no money to do it, you don't need an education to understand it and there's no admission fee.
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has caused this Dhamma edict to be written. Here (in my domain) no living beings are to be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice. Formerly, in the kitchen of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, hundreds of thousands of animals were killed every day to make curry. But now with the writing of this Dhamma edict only three creatures, two peacocks and a deer are killed, and the deer not always. And in time, not even these three creatures will be killed.
It has been said, "History is written by the victors." I take this to mean we can make ourselves victorious by writing, and then rewriting our own stories. In a country and culture so dominated by media, by the manipulation of words and stories, telling the tales of people whose stories historically have not been told is a radical act and I believe an act that can change the world and help rewrite history.
One of the stranger beliefs in science fiction is a passionate belief in Beautiful Writing--lots and lots of extraspecial exciting words thrown no hurled no CASCADED upon the reader in a shimmering shower of precious verbal gleaming gleanings and a singing pillar of righteous fiery syntactic spinach. The only thing that was good in that sentence was the spinach, and the hell with it.
Is the new generation of writers more concerned than their predecessors with politics, economics, and social class?
I think that there are lowered expectations, not sthetic expectations for the work, but lowered expectations in terms of life. My generation, perhaps foolishly, expected, even demanded, that life be wonderful and magical and then tried to make it so by writing in a rather complex way. It seems now quite an eccentric demand.
Pope has more virulence and less vehemence than any of the great satirists. His character of Sporus is the perfection of satirical writing. The very sound of words scarify before the sense strikes.
I think the next little bit of excitement is ﬂying. I hope I am not too old to take it up seriously, nor too stupid about machines to qualify as a commercial pilot. I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them.
I dont blame you for writing of me as you have. You had to believe other stories, but then I dont know if any one would believe anything good of me anyway.
The only hope I had was when (in his youth, fh)I saw one day a photograph of a sculpture by Wilhelm Lehmbruck, a German sculptor of expressionistic style. This was perhaps the only example, Lehmbruck, between my sixteenth to nineteenth years in which I saw a possibility for art to be principally of interest to innovate some things, instead of writing a very boring, naturalistic repetition of what is already done by nature.
It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
Nine-tenths of the value of a sense of humor in writing is not in the things it makes one write but in the things it keeps one from writing. It is especially valuable in this respect in serious writing, and no one without a sense of humor should ever write seriously. For without knowing what is funny, one is constantly in danger of being funny without knowing it.