“You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life; the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.”
“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
As I’m wont to do, I’ve been talking with friends about writing. Lately, a lot of our talk has been around the whole work vs. passion and how it plays into success and failure. Writing what we think we should be writing versus writing what we want to write. Today I stumbled across this Toni Morrison quote which hits at the center of it all.
Write your story. The only way to fail in writing is to not write.
“I didn’t and don’t want to be a ‘feminine’ version or a diluted version or a special version or a subsidiary version or an ancillary version, or an adapted version of the heroes I admire. I want to be the heroes themselves.”
“Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. (Roy Ascott’s phrase.) That solves a lot of problems: we don’t have to argue whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre’s bricks or Andrew Serranos’s piss or Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ are art, because we say, ‘Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.’ … [W]hat makes a work of art ‘good’ for you is not something that is already ‘inside’ it, but something that happens inside you—so the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind of experience that you call art.”
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”
“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.”
“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”
There’s intent here, a reason why I selected libraries as today’s topic. Consider this a passionate plea in support. Why? Well, yesterday, Seattle Review of Books shared a proposed Republican budget from Texas Representative Bill Flores, chair of the Republican Study Committee. Within their Blueprint for a Balanced Budget (read it at that link) it proposes cutting federal funding for Libraries (less than 0.01% of the budget.)
Appalling as that may sound, it’s a serious proposal and one that could end up on the desk of our new President. I shared it yesterday unsure of how to react. I was stunned and shocked and disappointed. Especially knowing how important the library system has become for our country. The library meant so much to me as a child and remains crucial to me as an adult. In an era when non-profits are struggling to make ends meet the Library system remains a vital institution in helping enrich our communities. Cutting funding is an ignorant and dangerous step in the wrong direction and it baffles my mind that defunding would even be considered.
This morning, my friend Matt Nelson (creator of the wonderful Catbeard the Pirate) joined me in an impassioned plea for the support of American libraries. I highly recommend you read his own thoughts and experiences. You can either start reading using the tweet below or check out this easy to read Storified version. It won’t take long and it’s worth your time.
The late Gene Wilder quoted the first two lines of Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s poem Ode in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Google happened to use that line in the audio for their Year In Search 2016 video (see below and bring a tissue.) Inspired, I decided to share the full poem. It’s fitting for the ending of a tumultuous year and anticipation that always builds with the beginning of the new.
✷ Ode ✷
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
And as promised, the video…
So here we are, one year ends and another begins. Keep loving. Keep fighting. Keep dreaming. And above all keep creating. The world needs your voice.
Have a safe and happy New Year.