Milestones & Quotes

Well, this is my fiftieth post on DevraDoWrite and the end of my seventh week as a blogess. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I am enjoying writing them.

Apropos of everything and nothing, but especially recent postings on the writing life, here are two quotes:

“…the power isn’t in the memory of the story; the power is in the telling of the story. The telling is what holds the moment, makes it immortal.” — Walt Harrington, The Everlasting Stream

“…the essayist-the creative nonfiction writer-must also be a thinker, a critic, and a social commentator.” — Lee Gutkind, The Art of Creative Nonfiction

The title of chapter eight in Gutkind’s book is also a phrase worthy of contemplation: “Think Globally, Act Locally.”

P.S. I’m off to hear a wonderful trio led by bassist Ron Carter with Mulgrew Miller on piano and Russell Malone on guitar. If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, you’ve got to get to The Jazz Bakery to hear them — they’ll be there through Sunday.


I’ve been grazing on the pages of Bartlett’s Quotations and came across this from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” (an undated letter)

When I think of swimming under water, which of course necessitates holding my breath, it evokes the sensation of a long journey, pushing through resistance to get to a destination where you can once again find some air. Engaging in this activty requires perserverence plus a measure of faith that your breath will be sufficient to get you there. Writing sometimes feels that way too.

On the other hand, I think there is a correlation between holding one’s breath and keeping strong emotions (especially the bad ones) at bay. Deflecting emotions such as sadness and pain might be useful as a survival tactic, but it can also lead to lackluster life and dreadfully dull prose. Quite simply, one must recognize pain in order to appreciate joy, let alone write about either. Or, as Alfred North Whitehead put it:

“Intellect is to emotion as our clothes are to our bodies; we could not very well have civilized life without clothes, but we would be in a poor way if we had only clothes without bodies.” (Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead – ch 29, June 10, 1943)

Inspirations and Goals

Here are a few of my favorite quotations from books about writing, lines I enjoy re-reading because they inspire me to keep writing:

“Art, in essence, celebrates life and gives us our measure.” – Bernard Malamud (First Person Singular: Writers On Their Craft; compiled by Joyce Carol Oates)

“…the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others…” – Brenda Ueland (If You Want To Write)

“Art is moral passion married to entertainment. Moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and entertainment without moral passion is television.” – Rita Mae Brown (Starting from Scratch)

“An essay about those who shun the popular and profitable for that of seemingly small importance is an essay I want to write; it is an essay I want to read.” – Lisa Knopp (“Excavations” in The Essayist At Work, edited by Lee Gutkind)

Those are my goals as a writer: to celebrate life, to illuminate the lives and loves of people around me, to do so with skill as well as passion while creating works that are entertaining.