Thursday, August 8, 2019

Artistic Openness and Book Evangelists

I have a series of thoughts, but I don't know if they will hold together as a unified blog post.  But it feels important to collect them.

--One of the delights of Facebook is hearing from old friends who may just have a snippet of something to say.  In olden days, they wouldn't have written a letter to say it, and back then, long distance phone calls cost serious money, so they wouldn't have picked up the phone.  When I linked to my Toni Morrison post yesterday, a friend wrote this:   "I actually cried at work when I got the news. I remember to this day you recommending Song of Solomon to me. I have loved her writing ever since."

I have no memory of recommending that book or any other Toni Morrison book to my friend.  I'm so happy that he shared that memory with me.

It reminded me of a different friend from the same time, my undergraduate years.  She remembers that I recommended The Handmaid's Tale to her, that I insisted that she read it.  She did, and she says it completely changed her mind about many feminist issues.

Here, too, I have no memory of this event, but it made me happy to hear it.

Some people are religious evangelists, but I once was a book evangelist.  And I still am, although I'm not reading nearly as many books as I once was.

--This article is composed of pieces of writing advice from Toni Morrison throughout the years.  They're the kind of quotes that make me want to get back to my writing in a deeper way.

--Three weeks ago I started writing my apocalyptic novel.  I am not making the kind of progress as I did three weeks ago.  Let me take the next few days of this week to strategize how I'm going to get into a more regular writing rhythm once the semester begins, and my spouse and I return to teaching.

I want  to work on the novel at least 3 days a week.  I want to write a poem a week, at least one.  I have been finding it hard to write both the novel and poetry.

--And while I'm listing goals, let me say that I want to get back to more regular exercise, more walks, even if they're short walks.  I need to remember why I love living here.

--I have been thinking about the art piece that I intend to submit for this show about home at ArtServe.  I am surprised by this inner critic who has begun piping in, the one who thinks this idea is stupid, the idea that I'm not a real artist.  For over 20 years, I've been working on a variety of visual arts, and I've been a writer even longer than that.  Where does this voice come from?  Part of it may come from the years I was around "real visual artists" at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale.  Most of them were kind and encouraging.  There were some snooty artists who were dismissive of the kinds of art forms that were most interesting to me.  I'm surprised that some of their ideas have become embedded in my brain.

--Let me close with a quote of encouragement from Toni Morrison:  "It’s that being open—not scratching for it, not digging for it, not constructing something but being open to the situation and trusting that what you don’t know will be available to you. It is bigger than your overt consciousness or your intelligence or even your gifts; it is out there somewhere and you have to let it in."

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