One Wild and Precious Life

Collecting a little beauty, a little art, a little clarity.

Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or to figure out how to tell their story. Which means that a place is a story, and stories are geography, and empathy is first of all an act of imagination, a storyteller’s art, and then a way of traveling from here to there.

—Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby (via doskapozora)

It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how.

—Ann Patchett, Bel Canto (via observando)

Forgiveness.

The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this, because it is the key to making art and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper (which, let’s face it, was once a towering tree crowned with leaves and a home to birds), I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.

There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.

—Adrienne Rich (via larmoyante)

typostrate:

Animal alphabet

Made by Marcus Reed, graphic designer from London, UK had the idea to make an illustrated animal alphabet for kids. As an ongoing illustration project involving animals forming the letter shapes, this project is designed with the love for the detail. Enjoy it! 

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(Source: marcusreed.com)

One Down, Three To Go

Last night I handed in my last packet for my first term of graduate school. In the past five months, I have read 24 books - most of them monster classics. Some I loved, some I…did not love. I have also written eight annotations, five creative nonfiction essays about whatever I felt like (roughly 115 pages of prose in total), and one ten-page term paper.

I played around with scheduling. Tried to crash and burn through weekends. Tried to write at night (fail). Learned the only way to do this thing is to get up at 5 am or so and write before work. I have received mountains of criticism, the kind that makes you want to shrivel up and die inside. But, towards the end there was some encouragement. It felt like oxygen.

There is the sensation that this entire first term was a huge dress rehearsal, a ramping up. It was filled with the sense of just figuring this thing out. And now that it’s over, I feel ready to actually begin.

In ten days, I go back up to Bennington to residency number two. I imagine my class will look and feel the same as me - a little less bright, less shiny, more war-torn and haggard. But perhaps still in love with it. And maybe that means, ready to get down to the fucking work. 

Not until you’ve tried to do something is it possible to really respect how hard it is, I am finding. Writing well is hard. I want to be better at it. That’s it; I have no ambitions other than that. I just want to be better, to be maybe someday “good” at this thing that I love.

The love, so far, is enough to pull me through. Even though I have hit moments of exhaustion so deep I could weep about it.

But as hard as this is, I’m choosing it. And it was harder to live a life without it, somehow. So no complaining. Just get to fucking work.