Friday, September 28, 2012

World of Writing

-- Quote of the Day --

“…Grandfather Little Hawk is  a Mikmaw storyteller – they are the Natives of Nova Scotia Indian storytellers, and he follows the storytelling techniques passed down for literally 8,000 years. …His storytelling was so beautiful, so we started a program on storytelling… and we expanded on that to put it into a book. He did the telling, I did the writing. ...I love the process of writing and I tend to give myself a goal of writing 5000 words before I go to bed each night. I often take long walks dictating in a tape or writing in a note pad. The first writing of the book took maybe a month, and the editing of the book took almost a year – so you have all these words that you through them against a wall to see what sticks. …I read it now and I think ‘Wow, those are my words – but are they? They are Little Hawk’s words – but are they?’  It was a great process and I love writing.”

~ Frank Cipriani

Today’s quote originates from the Conscious Discussions Talk Radio episode titled: Small Acts Can Changethe World

 (*Click on the title to access the full discussion)

-- Brummets In The Media --

Check out our appearance via an article we wrote on the Found In Books Blog:

-- Conscious Living Event -- 

Sept 28-30
Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network – annual Voices for Sustainability Symposium

Location: Clear Sky Center, Cranbrook BC (Canada)

-- World of Writing Article --

* Today's article was submitted by Jill Jepson of, author of the book: Writing as a Sacred Path - A Practical Guide to Writing With Passion & Purpose, and manages the Writing As a Sacred Path Blog.

Most of the new writers I talk to have stories they’ve heard about someone whose first book won them a fat contract, national renown, and a lifetime of luxury. These stories seem to be contagious. Perhaps they’re picked up by contact with other new writers at conferences.  Or maybe Satan is spreading them in order to lead writers into lifetimes of despair. I’m not sure which.

Wherever they come from, these stories are dangerous. Most of them aren’t true, and even the tiny number that are don’t serve as good role models. They’re like a night of drunken revelry: Delightful until you wake up wearing somebody else's clothes at a Greyhound Station in Detroit.

I work with many writers coming off that sugar high five, ten, twenty years down the road, and I’ve found that the ones who were the most enchanted by success stories early on end up the most dispirited years later.

It's part of the reason I'm in favor of focusing on less smiley-faced stories. Instead of dreaming about being that one writer in a million who achieves early riches and fame, it is much better to admire those who struggled in obscurity, suffered multiple disappointments, and kept writing anyway. Take, for example, these four:

For years, Nathaniel Hawthorne labored at jobs he hated while writing stories that earned him little more than a bit of local attention. He was in his fifties before he published his only best-seller, The Scarlet Letter.
In his entire life, Herman Melville earned a little more than $10,000 for his writing—peanuts, even for the 19th century. All of his books went out of print in his own lifetime, and the work he considered his masterpiece, Moby Dick, was an unqualified flop.

F. Scott Fitzgerald  launched his career with the spectacular success of This Side of Paradise followed by The Beautiful and the Damned. He then suffered twenty years of rejection slips and poor sales, including the failure of what would later be proclaimed one of the best novels of the century, The Great Gatsby.

I would hardly recommend emulating Emily Dickinson’s life—she spent much of it shut away in her room—but there is something to be said for the passion she showed her writing. Yet, only a handful of her poems were published during her lifetime, and they were heavily edited to meet the standards of contemporary taste. If her sister hadn’t submitted her poems after her death, Dickinson’s work—now considered among the most significant poetry of her time—would have been lost to the world.

The short version: Hawthorne didn’t achieve success until late in life. Fitzgerald got it then lost it. Melville never did get it. Dickinson didn’t even try to get it. Yet, all of them are now considered literary luminaries.
These writers’ lives, much more than the stories about overnight fame, teach us something important about writing: It’s about writing. Not about success. Not about fame. Not about bestsellers and lucrative contracts. About the day-to-day work—and sheer joy—of putting quill to parchment or fingers to the keyboard.

Nathaniel and Herman and Scott and Emily all wrote constantly, all through their lives. They were all utterly dedicated to their art, regardless of the world’s response. Sure, they wanted success (well, not Dickinson, maybe, but the others). But they wrote with or without it.  They did it for the love. 

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