From To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
(via Rebecca Solnit’s wonderful essay, “Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable,” New Yorker)
No story is like a wheeled vehicle whose contact with the road is continuous. Stories walk, like animals or men. And their steps are not only between narrated events but between each sentence, sometimes each word. Every step is a stride over something not said.
The suspense story is a modern invention…and consequently today one may tend to overestimate the role of suspense, the waiting-for-the-end, in story-telling. The essential tension in a story lies elsewhere. Not so much in the mystery of its destination as in the mystery of the spaces between its steps towards that destination.
All stories are discontinuous and are based on a tacit agreement about what is not said, about what connects the discontinuities. The question then arises: Who makes this agreement with whom? One is tempted to reply: The teller and the listener. Yet neither teller nor listener is at the centre of the story: they are at its periphery. Those whom the story is about are at the centre. It is between their actions and attributes and reactions that the unstated connections are being made.— From Another Way of Telling, by John Berger and Jean Mohr
I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260), by Emily Dickinson
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
The best and most important news: You already have the skills you need to build a beautiful, sustainable life.
The secret of artists who make it work: they use the skills, resourcefulness, and creativity of their art practice in all aspects of their lives. Artists are over-skilled and work incredibly hard. We see value where others do not. We are brilliant problem-solvers and tool-users. We have the meta-skill of learning new skills.
If I said to you, “I want to make a performance that involves two hot-air balloons, a children’s chorus, and some trained cats.” You would say, “OK, let’s figure it out.” Because you are an artist and because you believe fundamentally that things can be figured out, transformed, adapted, and solved.
You have experience making the impossible happen. All too often, we don’t use those skills outside the studio. When it’s time to make a budget or do our taxes or have a meeting with a fancy funder, we say: “Oh, no I can’t do that. I’m an artist.”— From Making Your Life As An Artist, by Andrew Simonet. This is a guide to “building a balanced, sustainable artistic life,” and is full of good, practical advice and #quotesabouthardwork. You can download it for yourself, for free, here. ”Don’t starve. Make art.”
Our Many Never Endings, by Courtney Queeney
You entered the bedroom and fell to your knees.
I wait the rest of my life to hear you say, I made a mistake.
Inside my chest, a mangle.
Inside yours, a deflating balloon.
You took the vacuum cleaner, the ironing board, the dish rack
and left me some lint, an iron to scorch shirts, one chipped plate.
I would like to say at least we perfected
entrances and exits, like professional stage actors
honing their craft, but even that’s a fantasy.
Mostly on TV the lions ate the hyenas
but sometimes the hyenas
formed a posse, and tore a lion up.
Occasionally you came in out of the rain
and I was glad to have you.