This morning I was writing a blog post about the Create in Me retreat. I started thinking about the ways that the words integrated and integrity are so similar. It makes sense of course, and if I'd had those Latin classes I've always regretted not taking, I could explain it better.
The ways to live an integrated life full of integrity are never far from my mind. I was talking to colleagues yesterday, and I said, "I feel like every money-making idea I have is rooted in old media technology: good book ideas, something like that."
One colleague is writing one of those old media books, and we talked about a different colleague who is going to part-time because he's making so much money from an app he created. Can one still make money writing books? There have been recent reports that make it sound like no one is reading, at least nothing on paper.
And then, this morning, I came across this blog post by Marly Youmans, which ends with this wonderful idea: "All you lovers of reading and shapeliness in words, defy this crazy world! If hopeless, still be brave. Read better books, make better books. Encourage taste, a human achievement that used to support culture. Online or in-person, recommend what's best in the arts. Make the better world, even if you fear that you are the only person who inhabits it. Dream of a better culture, a more worthy gift to hand on to our children."
I walked to the beach with those words in my head; I watched the sun rise. The cloud cover made it less dramatic than I expected. I watched as the sky turned from a dull grey to a lovely violet. I thought about Victorian mourning customs, where one could tell what stage of grief the mourner occupied by the color of the clothes, which went from black to grey to violet to lavender as the year progressed.
I thought about the sun and sky in concert every day, creating wonderful vistas which most of us will never notice. I often feel that way about poems and blog posts, which is rather liberating. And then, suddenly, something I've written gets attention, and it's almost always a bit of a surprise.
I'll continue writing the compositions that make me happy. I'll continue hoping to find a gathering of readers who will also be made happy. I'll lay the ground work and show up for the daily tasks and take the long view and see what happens.
And here's a last piece of inspiration from Michael Cunningham, who was recently on The Diane Rehm show. A caller asked for advice for newer writers, and he said, "Don't panic." Diane Rehm asked if he had panicked ever, and he answered: "On occasion, which is why I feel confident that "don't panic" is good advice. Because finally, finally, the people who get to be writers have to have some knack for it, but maybe -- well, at least, as important is, you have to be the one who won't give up. The one who will just sit in the chair, and sit in the chair, and sit in the chair and write this sentence over and over and over again. And who refuses to be discouraged by rejection notes, by whatever comes your way as you're making your way." You can listen to the whole interview or read the transcript here.
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