Your weathered face has me drying, prying at my eyes. I see your love, I see your life gone by. 

"Bellow had already conceived of a novel about a duplicitous marriage. (Perhaps on some level he knew?) But now Bellow had his material in all its incredible salaciousness, and he did not hesitate to use his life (nor the lives of others) in his fiction."  

I once wrote a story, 7,000 words strong, about a girl named Flora and her failed relationship. The inevitable, the doomed. Perhaps on some level, I knew too.


Antonín Dvořák

Listening to Dvořák, imagining the streets of Prague. When my thoughts should be arriving at the allegories of Plato. Drifts to Kafka and Kundera again. Back to Cephalus, and then again I check back to Czech. Oh, why is my mind always somewhere else? 


John Steinbeck: On Getting Started

It is usual that the moment you write for publication—I mean one of course—one stiffens in exactly the same way one does when one is being photographed. The simplest way to overcome this is to write it to someone, like me. Write it as a letter aimed at one person. This removes the vague terror of addressing the large and faceless audience and it also, you will find, will give a sense of freedom and a lack of self-consciousness.
            Now let me give you the benefit of my experience in facing 400 pages of blank stock—the appalling stuff that must be filled. I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone's experience which is probably why it is so freely offered. But the following are some of the things I have had to do to keep from going nuts.
            1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
            2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
            3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn't exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
            4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn't belong there.
            5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
            6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

And what do I think?

Perhaps these are some of the most motivational words my eyes have ever seen. Not that they are poetically appealing. But in the absolute simplistic construct that they are arranged; I fall. Finally, some things make sense to me. But of course the practice is what scares me.

I find the most brilliant (it's hard to choose, but I've narrowed it down) insight in this interview to be the request to not stop and edit. Sort of impossible-or is it? I'm manifesting this as I type now...It's working. But such an oddity for my usual typing. Don't stop. Keep going, going, going.

What do you think?


the wisest words ever said

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write."
-Saul Bellow


Paris Review: Saul Bellow

From the Paris Review 
Winter 1966

It's been said that one can't like both Lawrence and Joyce, that one has to choose between them. You don't feel this way?  
No. Because I really don't take Lawrence's sexual theories very seriously. I take his art seriously, not his doctrine. But he himself warned us repeatedly not to trust the artist. He said trust the work itself. So I have little use for the Lawrence who wrote The Plumed Serpent and great admiration for the Lawrence who wrote The Lost Girl

Your context is essentially that of the modern city, isn't it? Is there a reason for this beyond the fact that you come out of an urban experience?

Well, I don't know how I could possibly separate my knowledge of life, such as it is, from the city. I could no more tell you how deeply it's gotten into my bones than the lady who paints radium dials in 
 the clock factory can tell you.  

You've mentioned the distractive character of modern life. Would this be most intense in the city?

The volume of judgments one is called upon to make depends upon the receptivity of the observer, and if one is very receptive, one has a terrifying number of opinions to render—“What do you think about this, about that, about Vietnam, about city planning, about expressways, or garbage disposal, or democracy, or Plato, or pop art, or welfare states, or literacy in a 'mass society'?” I wonder whether there will ever be enough tranquility under modern circumstances to allow our contemporary Wordsworth to recollect anything. I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness that characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction. 


list of lovelies

Things that are lovely about summer & starting anew.

  • Spending time in the sun reading Saul Bellow.
  • My mother reading Simone Weil on the couch, au reverie!
  • Many a nap outdoors.
  • Bike rides and thoughtful walks.

I had been thinking aloud in the usual way,  and until he interrupted I hadn't altogether realized how upset he was.  The very ends of his hair showed it as well as the blue gaze of his disturbed eyes, very much dilated in their figure eight frame. The tilt of his upper body when he said, "Let me tell you about yesterday," made me say to myself, "Oh-Oh!" And the of the roundness of his head took on a different aspect. It had never occurred to me before, but a head as round as that was born to roll.

Par mon amour Saul Bellow.