Today’s quote comes to us from my friend and fellow VCFA alum Anne Westrick. She is currently working with her editor on a revision of her YA novel, due to come out in 2013. I’ve read bits of that novel and it is stunning. Meanwhile she is working on a middle grade novel. When I asked Anne what quote about writing inspires her during the dark, faithless times, she called upon Annie Dillard‘s The Writing Life.
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now… Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.
“This is my absolute favorite quote for writing,” says Anne. “This idea that something more will arise for later… that creativity begets creativity in the same way that love leads to more love, that it’s a growing thing, not something to hoard but something to give away because in the giving, somehow it grows into something even greater than it originally was… this is what excites me about writing. It’s what gets me up in the morning–this sense that I don’t yet know what might come of today’s writing. When I approach my writing with a sense of anticipation, of joy, of vulnerability because I’m opening myself up without knowing what I’ll find… I fall in love with the process. Again and again, I fall in love. It’s not about the finished product (well, yes, it is in the end, but it’s not along the way), but about the process of getting there. When a writer lives for the process, itself, amazing things can happen.
“For me, something about writing is therapeutic. It is spiritual. The process gives me a great sense of fulfillment. Now, I’m not talking about the business of writing! I’m talking about the process of creating something from nothing, a story from a blank white sheet of paper. I’m talking about wonder. About awe. About possibility, itself. About grace. About allowing my body to become a vessel through which a story tells itself. No, I’m not smoking anything funny while I’m writing this! I’m talking about joy. When you read Annie Dillard, at some point in the process of reading her reflections, you will feel joy. That is what writing is all about…”
Thank you, Anne and Annie. I love having you over to begin a new year of writing…with joy.