Sunday, November 28, 2021

Thoughts on creativity

Wise words from writers and artists born on November 29:


from American novelist Louisa May Alcott (Little Women, Little Men) (1832-1888):

I like good strong words that mean something...

Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.


from English writer and scholar C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity) (1898-1963):

Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Writing is like a 'lust,' or like 'scratching when you itch.' Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I, for one, must get it out.

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.

I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.

You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.


from American author Madeleine L'Engle (The Small Rain, A Wrinkle in Time, A Circle of Quiet) (1918-2007):

Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.

We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.


from Lithuanian writer, playwright, stage actor, and director Antanas Škėma (White Shroud [Balta drobulė]) (1910-1961):

In literature, everything is beautiful. Even nasty things. Suicide is disgusting. But I need to.

It's disgusting to die, so I drink. I'm afraid to die, so I'm writing. I'm afraid to die, I'm swallowing pills. It's all for the sake of dying.


from painter James Rosenquist (Astor Victoria, 1947-1948-1950, Zone, F-111) (1933-2017):

When things become peculiar, frustrating and strange, I think it's a good time to start painting.

I'm interested in contemporary vision—the flicker of chrome, reflections, rapid associations, quick flashes of light. Bing! Bang!

I stick the collages on the wall and, if I still like them after a month or two, I make a painting.

To be creative is to be accepting, but it's also to be harsh on one's self. You just don't paint colors for the silliness of it all.


from American actor and playwright Chadwick Boseman (42, Get on Up, Avengers franchise, Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Hieroglyphic Graffiti, Deep Azure) (1976-2020):

I'm an artist. Artists don't need permission to work. Regardless of whether I'm acting or not, I write. I write when I'm tired in fact, because I believe your most pure thoughts surface.

There's nothing more stressful than your stomach growling. But interestingly enough, some of my best writing came when I was poor and hungry—living off water and oatmeal, mind clear.

Nobody has to give me permission to write.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Literary bits for 22 November


Thoughts on art and expression from creative people born on November 22:


from American first lady and writer Abigail Adams (1744-1818):

My bursting heart must find vent at my pen.


from British novelist, poet, journalist, editor, and translator George Eliot (Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, The Spanish Gypsy, The Legend of Juba, Middlemarch) (1819-1880):

Our words have wings, but fly not where we would.

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.


from French Nobel Prize-winning writer André Gide (L'immoraliste, La porte étroite, Les caves du Vatican, La Symphonie Pastorale, Les faux-monnayeurs, Les nourritures terrestres) (1869-1951):

What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it; what another would have written as well, do not write it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself-and thus make yourself indispensable.

Art begins with resistance—at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.

Art is the collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.

To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.

What would there be in a story of happiness? Only what prepares it, only what destroys it can be told.

There is no prejudice that the work of art does not finally overcome.

Great authors are admirable in this respect: in every generation they make for disagreement. Through them we become aware of our differences.


from British composer Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, The Rape of Lucretia, War Requiem) (1914-1976):

Composing is like driving down a foggy road toward a house. Slowly you see more details of the house—the color of the slates and bricks, the shape of the windows. The notes are the bricks and the mortar of the house.

The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.

One day I'll be able to relax a bit, and try and become a good composer.


from Russian novelist Victor Pelevin (Omon Ra, Chapayev and Void, Generation P) (born 1962):

Reading is human contact, and the range of our human contacts is what makes us what we are. Just imagine you live the life of a long-distance truck driver. The books that you read are like the travelers you take into your cab. If you give lifts to people who are cultured and profound, you'll learn a lot from them. If you pick up fools, you'll turn into a fool yourself.


Iranian-French graphic novelist, screenwriter, and director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, Embroideries, Chicken with Plums, Radioactive) (born 1969):

You have to be narcissistic to be an artist. You have to think you are the centre of the whole thing; otherwise, why do you create? The only thing is to recognise it, and then you make the best of it.

Writing is not for me. I completely lose my sense of humor when I write. I become extremely pathetic, very sensational. Images give me possibilities that I don't have with words.

I don't like the word 'autobiography.' I rather like the term 'autofiction.' The second you make a script out of the story of your life, it becomes fictional. Of course, the truth is never far. But the story is created out of it.

All big changes of the world come from words.


from British novelist and screenwriter Stel Pavlou (Decipher, The 51st State) (born 1970):

Even if mankind had any desire to rid itself of the Seven Deadly Sins, Greed had been assured of a place in our hearts by virtue of time. By writing it down on a piece of paper and parading it as law and belief, Greed could be resurrected at a moment's notice.

That was the beauty of the written word. It was invariably taken at face value and granted permit to be spoken as the truth. It lived longer than the man.

And wreaked havoc in the process.


from Canadian poet Suhaib Rumi (@suhaib.rumi) (born 1988):

If you're observant, you'll find extraordinary lessons in the most ordinary moments. Reminders for the soul of what it once knew, but forgot.

A pen went scribbling along. When it tried to write love, it broke.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Thoughts on creativity

Wise words from authors and artists born on November 15:


from Nobel Prize-winning dramatist and novelist Gerhart Hauptmann (Die Weber, Der Biberpelz, Hanneles Himmelfahrt, Die Ratten) (1862-1946):

Writing poetry consists in letting the Word be heard behind words.

Experience is the basis of poetry.

Art is a language, therefore, a social function.


from columnist, radio panelist, and poet Franklin Pierce Adams ("The Conning Tower," Information Please, The Melancholy Lute) (1881-1960):

Having imagination it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that if you were unimaginative would take you only a minute.


from Pulitzer Prize-winning Modernist poet and editor Marianne Moore (Poems, Observations, Collected Poems, The Dial) (1887-1972):

Poetry is all nouns and verbs.

Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others.

If technique is of no interest to a writer, I doubt that the writer is an artist.

A writer is unfair to himself when he is unable to be hard on himself.

Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.

One writes because one has a burning desire to objectify what it is indispensable to one's happiness to express.

When we think we don't like art it is because it is artificial art.

Life is energy, and energy is creativity. And even when individuals pass on, the energy is retained in the work of art, locked in it and awaiting release if only someone will take the time and the care to unlock it.

In a poem the words should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind.

Originality is... a by-product of sincerity.

Conscious writing can be the death of poetry.

I believe verbal felicity is the fruit of ardor, of diligence, and of refusing to be false.

I never 'plan' a stanza. Words cluster like chromosomes, determining the procedure.

Everything I have written is the result of reading or of interest in people.

I see no reason for calling my work poetry except that there is no other category in which to put it.


from Modernist painter Georgia O'Keeffe (Blue, Black Iris, Oriental Poppies, Radiator Building—Night New York, Jimson Weed, Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue, Ram's Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills) (1887-1986):

To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.

I can't live where I want to, I can't go where I want to go, I can't do what I want to, I can't even say what I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.

It's not enough to be nice in life. You've got to have nerve.

I decided to accept as true my own thinking.

I have things in my head that are not like what anyone taught me— shapes and ideas so near to me, so natural to my way of being and thinking.

I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at—not copy it.

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.

I hate flowers—I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move.


from children's and YA author Daniel Pinkwater (Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, The Big Orange Splot) (born 1941):

I believe it is impossible to make sense of life in this world except through art.

I went to college, but I learned to write by reading and writing.

I sort of always like to write starting with when I learned how.

I imagine a child. That child is me. I can reconstruct and vividly remember portions of my own childhood. I can see, taste, smell, feel, and hear them. Then what I do is, not write about that kid or about his world, but start to think of a book that would have pleased him.

I'd always liked to write, but I never wanted to be a writer, because it seemed a sissy occupation. It is. To this day, I find it terribly easy. And so, rather than trying to hunt up a text, I just wrote one.

Writing and telling are almost the same, the way I do it.

Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.

All my books were easy to write—doesn't it show?


from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historical writer Rick Atkinson (The Liberation Trilogy, The Revolution Trilogy) (born 1952):

If I've vividly laid out the narrative, the reader will come to his own conclusions.


from fiction author Tibor Fischer (Under the Frog, The Thought Gang, The Collector Collector, Voyage to the End of the Room) (born 1959):

I always consider every place worth exploring once--just in case there's a thirty foot flaming sign divulging the secret of life, that no one has told me about.

Ultimately, it's about the quality of the writing whatever style you are writing.

As an author, I realise, you're on your own. You have to do everything you can to help The Book. If I make sure people know it's out there, they can make up their own minds whether they want to read it.

Criticism is part of being in the marketplace. If you can't take a bit of criticism, you shouldn't bother publishing a book.

I went to a British Council event a while back and there were lots of German professors of literature. About half of them were convinced I had a German sense of humour and the other half were sure it was British. They are probably still arguing about it now.

You've got to try everything once, except those things you don't like, or that involve a lot of effort and getting up early.

Most books reviews aren't very well-written. They tend to be more about the reviewer than the book.

The way British publishing works is that you go from not being published no matter how good you are, to being published no matter how bad you are.

The impossible lives next door to the possible; people ring its door bell by accident all the time.

Few pleasures are greater than knowing you can close your door, ignore the world and create your own.