the naked eye, the vulnerable brain, the aching heart

Ze is nu een dikke week dood. Haar boek over schrijven blijkt een boek over discipline en doorzettingsvermogen: elke dag 1000 woorden (heeft ze van Woolf), elke dag een ‘charming note’ naar iemand (komt later van pas), elke week 5 dollar opzij zetten zodat je kunt reizen voor je schrijven (koffie drinken met mensen naar wie je charming notes hebt gestuurd). Je mag in charming notes nooit om een gunst vragen, – just being kind, being tender, being nice, showing love. Deze ‘airplanes of affection’ zijn ‘the glue of human sweetness’. Op haar site is ze nog niet dood, je kunt Carolyn See een charming note sturen.

Uit Making a literary life, advice for writers and other dreamers

Literary life is a marriage, not a romance. And, as I said, some of us aren’t very good at marriage; the dailiness of it gets us down.


It’s a marriage, not a romance: the tension of ‘being in love’ and at the same time, somewhere in there, profoundly not giving a shit — but still taking it on faith that you must be in love. And you’re counting on that feeling to last for the rest of your life.


You turn your head away from your spouse during those moments when you’re out of love. But you can’t look away from the blank page or, more significantly, from pages and pages of a bad first draft.

It’s not that you don’t remember that you were in love but that you can’t feel it — it’s gone; it’s like looking at your wife on a hot day.


Maybe it wasn’t other people’s loneliness I was striving to alleviate but my own. And maybe I did. If you love this stuff, this writing, it’s worth your best effort, worth as much as the dizziest romance or the stormiest divorce or the most enduring marriage.


If you can stand the dailiness of it — the continuing marriage of your inner life to all the confusion of the outside world — you can have some fun! — in the very highest and most profound sense.


[waarom schrijven tegen elk advies in?]

Because we live in a beautiful, sentient universe that yearns for you to tell the truth about it. If you love this world and this craft, they will lift you to a place you can’t begin to imagine.

Leeslijst in Making a literary life, advice for writers and other dreamers

Isabel Allende, The House of Spirits
Kay Boyle, Fifty Stories
Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys
Gregg Easterbrook, This Magic Moment
James Ellroy, Black Dahlia
C. S. Forester, Beat to Quarters
E. M. Forster, A Room with a View, The Longest Journey
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber from The Complete Stories of Ernest Hemingway
Frank Herbert, Dune
Carl Hiaasen, Native Tongue
Henry James, The Ambassadors
Kay Redfield Jameson, An Unquiet Mind
Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air
Anne Lamott, Rosie, Bird by Bird
Elmore Leonard, Cuba Libre, Touch
James McBride, The Color of Water
Iris Murdoch, Under the Net
Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
Carolyn See, Golden Days
Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus
Rose Tremain, The Way I Found Her (vindt ze bijzonder)
Don Westlake, any of the Dortmunder books
Tim Winton, Cloudstreet
Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

Drie quotes

‘Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.’

‘You can go a surprisingly long time without figuring out the kind of person you are and in what direction your life is taking you.’

‘As Australian Aboriginals might say, if you don’t ‘sing your world into being,’ no one else will.’

Waarom zien de huizen van schrijvende vrouwen er opgeruimd uit? Omdat het moeilijk is om het elke dag te doen, de rest van je leven: writing 1000 words a day, each day, 5 days a week for the rest of your life. Ze deed het toen haar man aan het doodgaan was. ‘It was a form of praying, I see now.’

Ik ben benieuwd naar Golden Days, haar ‘inspirational novel about nuclear war’ (tip van Ursula K. Le Guin)