Tag Archives: John McPhee

Sharing is Caring

6 May

I am really busy finishing up school stuff (first thesis draft submitted yesterday!), dealing with my life, and entering this contest through The Guardian to get something I write published (thanks to Keesler for putting it on the listserv!) so I have been neglecting my blog. Also, my brain has been so consumed by the aforementioned things that I have been having a hard time formulating an opinion on basically anything.  Except eggs.  I have been eating a lot of eggs and enjoying them.  So, eggs are good. Opinion formulated. Anyway, because I have no interest, at this current moment, in writing a full blog about my appreciation for eggs as of late, I am going to share with you* all a few quotes that I have discovered over the past few months that relate to writing that I found really…inspiring.** So, here they are!

1. John Patrick Shanley: “Writing is acting is directing is living your life…I see no difference between writing a play and living my life.  The same things that make a moment in my life succeed, combust, move, these things make a moment in my playwriting have life.  And when I move in my writing, I have moved in my life.  There is no illusion.  It is all the same thing.”

2. C. Wright Mills: “By keeping an adequate file and thus developing self-reflective habits, you learn how to keep your inner world awake. Whenever you feel strongly about events or ideas you must try not to let them pass from your mind, but instead to formulate them for your files and in so doing draw out their implications, show yourself either how foolish these feelings or ideas are, or how they might be articulated into productive shape. The file also helps you build up the habit of writing. You cannot `keep your hand in’ if you do not write something at least every week. In developing the file, you can experiment as a writer and thus, as they say, develop your powers of expression. To maintain a file is to engage in the controlled experience.”

3. John McPhee, in a letter to his daughter: “Dear Jenny: The way to do a piece of writing is three or four times over, never once. For me, the hardest part comes first, getting something  — anything — out in front of me.  Sometimes in a nervous frenzy I just fling words as if I were flinging mud at a wall.  Blurt out, heave out, babble out something — anything — as a first draft.  With that, you have achieved a sort of nucleus.  Then, as you work it over and alter it, you begin to shape sentences that score higher with the ear and the eye.  Edit it again — top to bottom.  The chances are that about now you’ll be seeing something that you are sort of eager for others to see.  And all that takes time. What I have left out is the interstitial time.  You finish that first awful blurting, and then you put the thing aside. You get in your car and drive home.  On the way, your mind is still knitting at the words. You think of a better way to say something, a good phrase to correct a certain problem. Without the drafted version — if it did not exist — you obviously would not be thinking of things that would improve it.  In short, you may be actually writing only two or three hours a day, but your mind, in one way or another, is working on it twenty-four hours a day — yes, while you sleep — but only if some sort of draft or earlier version already exists. Until it exists, writing has not really begun.”

So, with that, happy Monday.  It is Monday, right?

*A demonstration of how much I care!

**Due to current brain state (fried!) it took me way too long to come up with that word.