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Posts Tagged ‘vita-sackville-west’

My writing often starts out like this night's sky. While I'm kind of moonstruck, heading toward the light, the magical way to get there is light years away. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My writing often starts out like this night’s sky. While I’m kind of moonstruck, heading toward the light, the magical way to get there is light years away. — Photo by Pat Bean

“We are the only ones who can tell our stories because we are the only ones who have lived them.” – Susan Wittig Albert*

Words Whisper in my Ear – Or Scream in my Head

The first words I read this morning, as I sipped my cream-laced coffee after taking Pepper out for her first walk of the day, were:

“When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a writer’s pick, a wood carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.”     

       This is the first paragraph in Writing Life by Annie Dillard. Her words felt as if they had picked a line in my brain, as if she had read my mind before writing them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down to write about one thing and ended up writing about something else entirely; then on editing and rewriting my words, I discover it’s the very first, often well-thought out, sentence that requires the deepest knife cut.

Then suddenly the light I was aiming for disappears in a splash of brilliant color, and my writing path is lit by a magical brain wave that lets me know what I'm really writing about. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Then suddenly the light I was aiming for disappears in a splash of brilliant color, and my writing path is lit by a magical brain wave that lets me know what I’m really writing about. — Photo by Pat Bean

My brain thinks differently when I write. And I love it when I discover a writer who can explain the phenomena so well.

My favorite writing quote of all time is:

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.”  — Vita Sackville-West

What writer whispers in your ear, or screams in your head?

 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: I am a member of Story Circle Network, which for the past five years has been a tremendous support to me in finding my own writing voice after 37 years of writing with the voice of a journalist. It’s a community of women who have taught me much and never failed to offer an encouraging word. In April, SCN is holding a Stories from the Heart Workshop in Austin, Texas, which is well worth today’s Bean Pat. Check out the details of the conference at: http://www.storycircle.org/Conference/  and if you decide to go, please look me up.

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Keep on Keeping On

             “What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.” Logan Pearsall Smith

Writing feels like a sliver of silver moon that sheds light on what the dark tries to hide. within the world and within ourselves. Things may still be hazy, but never again invisible. -- Photo by Pat Bean .

Writing feels like a sliver of silver moon that sheds light on what the dark tries to hide. within the world and within ourselves. Things may still be hazy, but never again invisible. — Photo by Pat Bean .

Doing That Writing Thing

            I write because to not write is to not breathe. I think I’m not alone in how I feel. .

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” This quote by Vita Sackville-West is my very favorite writing quote.

Why do you write, and what’s your favorite writing quote?

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 “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” — Vita Sackville-West

Authors and Books

Victoria Mary Sackville-West at 17. Painting by Phillip de Laszlo

I collect quotes that speak to me. The one above by Sackville-West shouts at me. I am a writer who must write or not be. And I know that what I write today will not be the same words I will write tomorrow.

Life, be it a butterfly that alights on a flower in front of me and expands my mind about beauty or an earthquake that shakes the ground beneath my feet and forces me to consider death, continually colors my thoughts. That last analogy, as you probably already know, was prompted by yesterday’s headlines.

The quotes that go in my journal are collected everywhere. From my reading of diverse books, from the women in my Story Circle Network, from a bumper sticker, a billboard, and from my musings of quote blogs when I want one on a particular subject for my own blog.

I’m not sure where the Sackville-West quote came from. I found it on perusing my own journals for something to write about today. The blog I thought I would write this morning, the one that bloomed so clearly in my brain yesterday, I decided to chuck. See what I mean about not being able to write one day what you could have the day before.

Vita in her 20s. Painting by William Stang

One of the side benefits of collecting quotes is learning about the person who said or wrote them. Not always, but when I have time, I check out the author if I haven’t heard of them.

Sackville-West was a person I had never heard of when I originally copied her quote into my journal. I didn’t look her up back then, but was moved to find out who she was when I came across her name again this morning. It used to be I would have to go to a library for such research, but now I simply Bing or Google it. Gawd I love the Internet. Anyway, here’s what I found out about Vita:

She’s really a Victoria, which immediately jarred my brain because I thought Vita was a male name. She was born in 1892 as Victoria Mary Sackville West, the only child of the 3rd Baron Sackville. Because she was female (English former gender laws), she could not inherit her Kent family home, Knole House,  after her father died. It went to an uncle.  She is said to have considered this a betrayal for the rest of her life.

Historical plaque on Ebury Street in London -- Wikipedia photo

Perhaps that is why she became a female rebel. While she was supposedly happily married to Arthur Nicholson, 1st Baron Carnock, she also had same-sex affairs, the most prominent being with Virginia Wolfe. Vita’s son said Wolfe’s “Orlando” was a love letter to his mother, only with a sex change for Vita.

Sackville-West wrote no less than 17 novels of her own, winning the renown British Hawthornden Prize for literature twice.

I found all this trivia fascinating, although it boggles my mind that I knew who Virginia Wolfe was, but if I had ever heard of Vita Sackville-West, the name had never imprinted on my brain

.I am definitely going to have to check out Vita’s books and see if any are still in print. Her quote, which rescued today’s blog, demands it.

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