“If your everyday life seems poor to you, do not accuse it; accuse yourself, tell yourself you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; since for the creator there is no poverty and no poor or unimportant place.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
I recommend reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. This book is a collection of letters 27-year-old Rilke wrote to a 19-year-old cadet who was seeking guidance and feedback on his poetry.
His book will ground you and connect you to the true beauty of creating art…of being an artist. He reminds us that the beauty is in expressing our true selves through our craft, not in expecting fame or money.
Just finished this. It’s a great read with invaluable advice on writing and life. I highly recommend it. There are lingering doubts about the authenticity of some letters and emails to Miss Sugar. Who cares? Each inquiry is realistic if not completely true. Her responses are what really count. Most of her answers include events from her own life. They are compelling! Check it out.
I’m also about to read Help Thanks Wow from Anne Lamott. I know I will love this book, because I absolutely adore Lamott!
“One line of dialogue that rings true reveals character in a way that pages of description can’t.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Natalie Goldberg recommends that you listen carefully to dialogue and speech when you are in public places. Yes, it’s eavesdropping. But it’s also professional development. You’re not listening to be nosy. You’re listening so that you can be a better writer. Listen carefully to cadences, slang, vocabulary and observe mannerisms, facial expressions and reaction times.
How do people reveal themselves? What are they wearing? What does disappointment look like? What about fear? Joy?
“The very first thing I tell my students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth.”
Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird
The truth. It’s clear we want the truth, even in fiction. We can spot a lie within a fiction story instantly. That character would never do that! And then we get angry. Have you ever watched your favorite TV series and then someone does something completely out of character and it makes you so angry you quit watching? Ahhhh…for the love of ratings!
Great art is about presenting the truth. It has to come honestly from the heart, not from the desire to shock or manipulate emotions or increase your follower count.
Lamott emphasizes throughout her book the importance of allowing the characters to come to you and to reveal themselves to you. She cautions against inserting dialogue, action and plot that doesn’t emanate naturally from the characters. It will sound forced because it IS forced.
I’m not a painter, sculptor, photographer or actor, but I believe this philosophy pertains to all arts. As a famous sculptor once said,
“…a knot of wood or a block of marble made it seem that a figure was already enclosed there and my work consisted of breaking off all the rough stone that hid it from me”.”\