Came across this quotation from Lionel Trilling:
“Between is the only honest place to be.”
I heard the tail end of an interview about the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables. I had never read the book, so I found it at the library, and I am reading it now. The young orphan Anne cares a great deal about the “scope of imagination”—as she relates in this early scene:
Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everyting, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?
A recent obituary about the children’s book illustrator Tasha Tudor offered one of her favorite quotations:
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
—Fra. Giovanni Giocondo
Okay. So I crossed the finish line! I did it! Nevermind that some women ran 13.1 miles in half the time it took me. I found my pace. I found my zone. I made it.
At several points on the course, authoritative voices called out, “Make way for the lead runners,” and I would turn to see women racing past me. For an instant, I thought, “Damn! Who do I think I am?” But I reminded myself, “I have my own pace.” And the next time someone called out, “Make way!” I said loudly and clearly, “I need my space, too.”
On April 6, I turn 52.
And I plan to run a half-marathon in Central Park with at least 5000 other women who are over 40. Some of them will run a full marathon.
Tagged with: quotation
I recently downloaded some Laura Nyro songs from her final album, Angel in the Dark. The producer’s notes mention how important the imagination was to Nyro—it was the “ultimate, the center of spirituality.”
In working with first year college students and their writing, I notice their motivation rises when I give exercises or assignments that invoke their imaginations.
In Boston, we are experiencing February rains. This morning, walking Gizmo, I noticed just a few patches of dirty snow left from the series of storms we had some weeks ago.
Back inside the house, I dried Gizmo off with a towel, pulled off my dripping hood, and for some reason, remembered July, when I had major surgery, and then remembered the day we brought Gizmo home, almost 10 years ago. Why did those two memories come to me at that moment?
This morning, my usual routine has been disrupted by four men tearing apart our upstairs bathroom. Gizmo, particularly, is unhappy with the circumstances. He comes to sit underneath my legs, as if I am some shield.
My semester begins in two weeks, and in the next few days, I will ease into syllabus building.
Last night, I rode in a back seat through the Midtown Tunnel, down Second Avenue, west on 19th and over to Eighth Avenue. Every time I come to Manhattan, I am struck by its personality. Boston, for all its history, does not speak to me the way New York does.
This morning, I listened to an interview between Terry Gross and Paul Simon. She asked him about his song, “The Sounds of Silence”:
I recently finished reading a final round of letters from my students. I read a few passages to Diane, and she said, “The next time you wonder if you make a difference in the world, pull those letters out and read them.”
She’s right. One student wrote,
For the past ten days, I have been ill. I have not been able to teach or write or read much. But I have been able to observe. Thanksgiving found me, as it usually does, in NY with my in-laws. Perhaps I should have stayed home to nurse my illness; instead, I traveled. I was not fully there—or more to the point, I was differently there. In mid-illness, I lost my voice. For days, at various tables—food, talk, laughter, wine abounded—and I sat, mute, watching. I am often the observer, but generally by choice. This time, I had no choice.
When I returned home from the festivities, more symptoms appeared—the details don’t matter. I am more interested in how my perception changed. I still went through the motions of daily life, but in an altered sort of way.
Here’s a section from a recent student letter:
I know sometimes that our class can be tough in answering things, but I did just want to say that over this semester I really enjoyed this class. I feel like it as opened me up to writing that I haven’t actually experienced before. I know I may not be doing awesome, but I am trying my best and I’ve been really happy with the pieces that I’ve produced.
The student is referring to how much her classmates struggled to read and comprehend some recent textbook essays. I pushed them really hard, and that’s what the student means by having a hard time “answering things.”
Lately, I have been thinking about the disconnect between the process of writing and the marketing of writing. I have been trying to write the perfect description that 1) makes someone want to read my novel and 2) makes someone believe it can sell. In essence, I am trying to put words to my voice, style, and vision.
A few weeks ago, my friend Rita sent me a book: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. In it, Tharp discusses what she calls “creative DNA.” I like this quotation:
In searching through some books for “teaching of writing” ideas, I came across this quotation from Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story:
“From the first I thought that to teach writing was to teach my students how to keep on reading until we all saw as clearly as we could what was driving the writer. What, we would ask of the manuscript, was the larger preoccupation here? the true experience? the real subject? Not that such questions could be answered, only that it seemed vital to me that they be asked. To approach the work in hand as any ordinary reader might was to learn not how to write but—more important by far— why one was writing. In these classes both I and my students discovered repeatedly that this was more than half the battle.”
I heard a great lyric this morning to go with the website’s theme of “telling ourselves stories in order to live.” The lyric comes from Mary Gauthier’s song called “Lucky Stars.”
“And I know it’s hard to know the truth, so we live with points of view.”