I should not be so afraid of imperfect work — even work I myself think of as imperfect. I should only be “afraid” of leaving NO work. Perfect/imperfect — this is up to the gods — or whatever it is that arranges the constellation of times and sympathies in which judgments are forged. Times and sympathies change. So sometimes do judgments. The only thing I control is whether or not my work gets made. My only charge is to be sure the work is there at all, to witness.
Like the pyroclastic flow that rushed down from Vesuvius to engulf the citizens of Pompeii, the pencil lead sifts relentlessly down through analytic thought, and settles in every crease of the Story idea, immobilizing its sense for careful inspection.
the fiction fairy is off my shoulder these days. I am feeling spent and unmotivated by all current projects. It will come back to me. I just need to keep showing up. I don’t often experience a complete lull like this in the ficting impulse. But when I do it’s like a glimpse into a wasteland — nothing but Nothing as far as the I can see. What could explain it? Has the circus left town? Now what? My battered little cardboard ticket goes limp in my hand. I would turn for home, but: which way is that? I thought home was here.
Miraculously, the stub, long dormant, begins to live. Tiny swellings appear at its tip, and at every joint along its length — and these became nubbins, and their surfaces stretch and swell, popping and releasing more tiny things that burst forth fully formed. New things that arrive like leaves, creased and crammed into microscopic packages, and when released to the light and the air, unfurl. Things that open themselves up, just by continuing. Things that must open when they grow too large to remain folded.
Just because naming things is your prerogative doesn’t mean you know enough yet to do so.
I have a box full of old correspondence between my two grandparents — a hundred letters, refolded and tucked back into their envelopes, dating back a century to the start of their story together. And on one crisp, creased sheet of newsprint is a pencil draft of a poem.
… a hundred years on, that’s what is left: this bit of tragic bravery: this mighty effort, unsuccessful, to articulate what seemed at the time ineffable