The “perks” of writing and the compulsion to create revisited

One of the blogs I follow regularly is by a writer named Cristian Mihai, who often writes about creativity and the art (and business) of writing.  Although I’m not yet in his league as far as earning money for my writing, I do think this guy hits it spot-on about the “perks of being a writer.”  In a lot ways, reading this I found myself thinking, “oh, this is what I have to look forward to if I persist in writing regularly to the point where more people notice.”  At the same time, a big “perk” for me is one that he didn’t really mention: one of the best parts about writing, for me, is the ability to regularly and reliably stretch my creative and intellectual muscles. Why am I a writer?  I am a writer because I have to write.  The need to create and transform language and  thought compels me, and has for as long as I remember.  When I write, I am engaging with my world and my environment, while when I don’t write I feel like I am treading water and not making any progress at all really.  Here’s one of my favorite parts of this piece, which is worth reading in total as well:

“Okay, now on a more serious note. The perk I like most is that once in a while someone tells you they love your story. Whether a five-star review on Amazon, an e-mail, a blog comment, it doesn’t matter as long as someone genuinely loves your writing. Money can’t buy this mixture of admiration and envy that people feel when they read something really, really good. A paragraph or just a few short sentences that describe exactly how they feel in the world.

Two strangers, the writer and the reader, locked in this strange dance… there’s nothing that can compare to it. And you, as a writer, realize that you’re not as alone as you thought. Someone else feels the same way as you do.

As Tennessee Williams once said, you’re not lonely alone.”

For more on my thoughts about creativity and writing, you might check out these earlier posts from Greenfae’s Leaves (tagged “Creativity”).  Here are a few to get you started: 

The Recommitment

Not Writing Easily Now, I Find Myself Watching Old Movies And Trying To Stay Focused…

Another Great Article On The Origins and Practice of Creativity

A Universe of Its Own (this one is a perennial favorite of mine)






Freeman Dyson on Career and Work

Freeman Dyson on Career and Work.  I find this quote oddly inspirational and motivating.

At the end of eight days with no internet, a brief quote by a creative genius to warm up to the task of writing again

“I deliberately chose to break with traditions in order to be more true to Tradition than current conventions and ideas would permit. The most vital course is usually the rougher one and lies through conventions oftentimes settled into laws that must be broken, with consequent liberation of other forces that  cannot stand freedom.  So a break of this nature is a thing dangerous, nevertheless indispensable to society.  Society recognizes the danger and makes the break usually fatal to the [one] who makes it.  It should not be made without reckoning the danger and sacrifice, without the ability to withstand severe punishment, nor without the sincere faith that the end will justify the means, nor do I believe it can be effectively made without all of these.”

— Frank Lloyd Wright, as quoted in Counterculture Through The Ages by R. U. Sirius, p xvi-xvii.

A missed bus, English, August, and a wasted life? (part 1)

+25 Jan. 2005 Tues. ~9:30am,  13 August 10 Fri. 12:15pm, 23 August 10 Mon. ~9:00am, & the better part of September 2010

While waiting for the bus at Poplar & Clark this morning, I sat in a pleasant, sunny spot that Hi and I had discovered a few days before.  This morning I am re-reading (for the umpteenth time) English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee when I come across this rather poignant and telling passage.  The scene takes place at The Club, and Agastya (the August of the title) has just endured an afternoon playing cards with his superiors where the atmosphere is a smoldering rendition of politics as usual:

Read the rest of this entry »

Notes on a Southern Music Project

As Quoted in “Benjamin Smoke”:

“With a throat smooth as a lamb

Yet dry as a branch not snapping

He throws back his head

But he does not sing a thing


Patty Smith

(from “Death Singing”)

14 Feb 05 7:17 pm

A Reading From “Tales From The Medicine Trail” by Chris Kilham

“Ipupiara’s voice called out from very far away, ‘Ask him for the teaching.’. I turned to the cat. ‘Do you have a teaching for me’? The powerful feline’s head turned up, amber eyes locking onto mine. And then he spoke. ‘You must journey to other worlds, and tell people what you saw.'”
“Native people refer to treading the path of knowledge as walking to the medicine trail. [T]hat description…gives a sense of purpose and conveys that accumulation of knowledge is in fact a journey.”

1 January 2005

A Reading From “With Socrates On The Sofa”

From, “With Socrates On The Sofa,” Ode Magazine, Dec 2004, p47

“[Philosopher] Gerd Achenbach is perturbed by psychotherapy….

“Auchenbach says the vast majority of day-to-day problems come from the way we lead and look at our lives — exactly the areas that philosophy can help. ‘It ties in with the tradition of Socrates,’ he says. ‘What do we need to make progress? And what should I become? To me, the question isn’t how to reach that blissful state considered normal, but what do I need now to take a step forward?”

14 December 2004 ~5:30 pm Tuesday

A Reading From “The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley”

Loren Eiseley was an early 20th century Renaissance man of sorts.  When he was young, he hopped trains and hitchhiked around the country.  Later he became an anthropologist and taught at the University of Pennsylvania.  Widely regarded as one of the great naturalists and essayists of our time, Eiseley left behind a rich legacy of writings: poems, essays, proto-science fiction, and journals.

When I was in highschool, I was introduced to a wonderful book, a collection of his personal journals, entitled, The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley. My friend Adam T. was reading it one day during lunch, and I found myself enraptured by the cover — a colored pencil drawing of a very intense, inward-looking young man whose eyes seemed focused on  something otherworldly,  something I wanted to know for myself.  I checked the book out of the library as soon as it was available, and shortly after, ordered it at a local bookstore.

As I suspected, I was riveted to its pages and to this day, am very influenced by Eiseley’s vision and style.

from The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley:

“Why does the sound of the sea trouble my heart, or the sight of wolves in cages cause me to avert my eyes?…. The net closes; I age, but still I look sidelong for escape.  I yearn persistently for the road across the starfields that I will never live to wander.” (p228)

“…I wanted to find it, to visit my own grave, where, when we purchased it years ago, I had stretched out on the plot to look at the autumn sky and to think this will sometime be forever, though nothing, geologically speaking, ever is.” (p240)

To read more about Loren Eiseley, check out the Wikipedia bio:

For information on the current state of interest in Loren Eiseley, try the Loren Eiseley Society page:

Even horoscopes can have punch

(This goes under the heading of excerpts from the works of other people that I resonated with strongly enough to copy down longhand upon reading them.)

from The Memphis Flyer Horoscopes, Aug 3-9, 2000:

Pisces Rick Fields, former editor of the magazine Yoga Journal, has impecable credentials as an intelligent seeker of enlightenment.  His book Chop Wood, Carry Water contains practical strategies for adopting spiritual principles to daily life, while his How The Swans Came To The Lake is a well-respected narrative of the history of Buddhism in America.  In light of the tranquil grace for which he is renowned, some people were shocked at the chapbook he penned after contracting lung cancer a few years ago.  Fuck You, Cancer was the title.  The adversary you now face, Pisces, is nowhere near as dire as Fields’, but I urge you to draw inspiration from both his Buddhist calm and his fierce warriors’ spirit as you carry on your fight.” (emphasis added)