Archives for posts with tag: Annie Dillard

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PERFECTION
by Candace Butler

they went in search of purity
they commonly party several hours each morning
 
day and night
they battle weakness, confusion, and despair.
 
their sweet human absurdity
reached the North Pole
 
they must adapt to limitations
they must adapt to compromise
 
every move can carry eighteen years’ preparation
why not feel a little

SOURCE: “Perfection” by Candace Butler is based on page 41 Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters by Annie Dillard (HarperPerennial, 1982).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Candace Butler is a writer and artist living in her hometown of Sugar Grove, Virginia, a small town in the Appalachian Mountains. She is an MFA candidate at Antioch University of Los Angeles and is co-poetry editor of Lunch Ticket.

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April 30, 2013 marks the 68th birthday of Annie Dillard, best known as the author of PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK, which won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Dillard spent decades as a creative writing professor — and captured many of her insights in THE WRITING LIFE, a collection of short essays published in 1990.

Here are some excerpts from what I consider one of the best books about writing — for its  insider tips, advice, inspiration, and motivation…

“One of the 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. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.” 

“A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, ‘Simba!’” 

“There is neither a proportional relationship, nor an inverse one, between a writer’s estimation of a work in progress & its actual quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, & the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.” 

THE WRITING LIFE is available at Amazon.com.

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I’ve read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard several times — and sometimes just pick it up and read a few sections. The book is Dillard’s memoir about her life as a writer and includes her musings about the craft.

Here is my favorite passage (I actually woke up today thinking about this quote): “One of the 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. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.” 

Find the book at Amazon.com.