Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thoughts From "Writing Past Dark," to Reflect on During the New Year

Thoughts From “Writing Past Dark,”
to Reflect on During the New Year

January’s here again and with it the after-holiday pause, an opportunity to reflect on the past year and look ahead. I think of my family and dreams, then I ponder my developing career -- that of a budding author and want-to-be-published writer. If you’re like me, you combine introspection with questions. How do others feel? Do they share my hopes and insecurities? What do others think?
I turn to books on writing done by those who have tasted success.
This year I discovered an insightful, sensitive book, “Writing Past Dark,” by Bonnie Friedman.

I’d like to share 13 quotes I’ve gleaned from her writing life.
1.) “Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.”
2.) “When writing is going well, it is not like pushing. It’s like falling. You fall the way you do in dreams. You fall and fall. There is that same disorientation and breathlessness and speed and tension.”
3.) “The world has doors opening in all directions. I feel free, and awake and full of laughter. Writing has often been just like that for me.”
4.) “The best art risks most deeply.”
5.) “To supplement the formal workshop we need an informal one, where students are told: Write about what is most frightening to write. Write what makes you feel guiltiest. Write about the most passionate you ever have been. Write images, a whole string of images you do not understand.”
6.) “We should be told: Write fast, write close to the bone, write for 10 hours straight until you’re not thinking in words anymore but in colors, in smells, in waves of memory. Write what you care about.”
7.) “We want to abandon ourselves, to experience images that come to us ‘of their own free will,’ and yet we are opposed to it. We are, in fact, ambivalent.”
8.) “We are afraid of writing, even those of us who love it. And there are parts of it we hate. The necessary mess, the loss of control, its ability to betray us, as well as the possibility that what we write might be lousy, it might just stink and we’ll know it’s ours, or worse, we might think it’s lovely and show it to others only to realize by their constrained, uncomfortable response, that in fact we let loose a bad one. How to feel at ease with all this? How just to let one’s work be?”
9.) “On the one hand, we must write for ourselves. On the other, we must not forget the world. We must sit in our nook, our mental nook, the curtain around us in a space private as any voting booth or photographer’s cloaked crouch, and yet imagine always the needs of the audience.”
10.) The antidote to envy is one’s own work. (Brenda thinks this quote works for almost any emotion put in the blank.). Always one’s own work. Not the thinking about it. Not the assessing of it. But the DOING of it. The answers you want can come from work itself. It drives the spooks away.”
11.) “What we learn most deeply is usually what we do not know we are learning at all. Years later, if we are lucky, we recognize the shape of what we have learned -- its true anatomy.”
12.) “Fiction structures an experience for the reader to live through. This is why its force can be so great. You want your reader to feel a certain way; you want your reader to understand what you have been forced to understand—the insight that eludes words but that you know in your bones.”
13.) “To write well we must sink into the silt of this world.”
These, of course, are quotes that spoke to me. You’re likely to find even more inspiration in “Writing Past Dark” when you read the book or in your New Year’s ponderings.
Where are you in your writing life or whatever career you’re pursuing? What motivates you? Please share kernels of truth you’ve learned with the rest of us.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


  1. The worst thing about being a writer is never having time to read! By the time I sit down and can read I'm so tired I fall asleep.

    The Pink Flamingo

  2. These are some very deep thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

    My Thursday 13 #63 is up early. It is 13 Celebrity Births in 2007 kind of the opposite of last week's post. Stop by if you get a chance.

  3. Those are great quotes- they make me want to red the whole book. Number 6, especially, captures my imagination.

  4. Lots to think about there. Good list!

  5. This sounds like a book I really need to read. Thank you for telling me about it.

    13 Unresolved Issues from 2007

  6. that is an interesting list of quotes!

  7. Very wise quotes, lol ! but I just love to write whatever comes into my mind and when it itches me in my fingers I just put it down. But if I have to think and choose what I want to write, then it never works.

  8. These are all really good thoughts. I'm sending the link to my 13 year old daughter. She's writing a book and will appreciate the encouraging words.

  9. Writing is hard. Except writing about lizards. I like to write about lizards. And toys, too.

  10. Interesting thoughts to ponder...

    Thanks for visiting!

  11. No writing career for me... yet. I've always dreamed about it - since I was a little girl. I really like quote #8.

  12. I just write what I want to write about at the moment.

    Now that I've joined Blog 365, these quotes come in handy. Thanks for sharing this one.

  13. Beautiful quotes...I love the one about writing being like falling. I much prefer those days to the ones where it's like tooth extraction. Great list!

  14. what beautiful quotes and thoughts!!!!

    Have a great weekend!!! :)

  15. I can't even begin to reflect on the past year...too much action. The year seemed to slip by and I missed a lot of happening things. What I do remember is the last few days of the year with great friends and starting the New Year with the same people. I Hope the Year 2008 holds new, exciting and memorable experiences for everyone including my dear friends!

  16. Hey, Sorry kid, catch you next time. I'm just in for coffee. By the way, you've got a dead pickle plastered to the back of your blouse. Wow - looks like you made a chocolate shake with the lid off the blender - what happened to you? Writing past dark, and you tried to make coffee? Man, you've gotta be more careful with thoses coffee grinders!
    You know, Joyce Carol Oates once said "To write is to invade another's space,if only to memorialize it. To write is to invite angry censure from those who don't write, or who don't write in quite the way you do, for whom you may seem a threat. Art by its nature is a transgressive act, and artists must accept being punished for it. The more original and unsettling their art, the more devastating the punishment."

    Get it? Like, the next time you want to write after dark, Kiddo, make sure you are home. See you.

  17. Hey, you also have toilet paper on your shoe....