a post about why writers write. He also linked to a Huffington Post article about the same. I started to answer him on his post and then realized my response was not a comment but a post itself and probably could be a book, though luckily I have no desire to write a book about the subject. Out this post goes with best wishes to him for better health.
Of course, I don't know why the group called writers write. I only know why I write, and why I did not stop when having my third book come out at FSG within two weeks after 9-11 destroyed my so-important "numbers," or why I didn't stop when various editors orphaned my books by leaving FSG or LSU or Godine before pub date, or why I'm still writing today. Those things don't make me special; every published writer has a collection of such stumbles and pieces of ill luck, and plenty of us have made wrong choices along the way.
So here it is: my plain truth. No varnish. No trim.
* * *
Making is joy.
Playing with words can feel like joy streaming through the body.
There is little that is stranger, wilder, and more thrilling than to go to what feels like a fount and to bring back a pail brimming with golden water.
The call is to bring a shaped thing out of the welter of things and names: to create using the materials of Creation.
A strange part of all this leaning toward shapeliness is that a writer is also made, enlarged, changed and transformed. She may fly into ethereal realms or trudge through the underworld, may die on the phoenix pyre many times. She experiences redemption, loss, debasement, courage, all wax and wane--a whole gamut of ways of being. She loves the unloveable as well as the much-loved. Like a fantasy object, a writer becomes bigger on the inside through making poems and narratives.
Giving a made thing away in the form of a book and having it be received is also fine. And lovely. And makes a writer pleased and glad. But when the book goes out from the writer, it is just that: gone out. Whatever flame it has may continue to burn elsewhere. Something new needs to be born. Yeats's Wandering Aengus chases his silvery trout lady until he is an old man; he will go on till times and time are done.
You ask about money and writers. Expecting to be rewarded financially for art in our current times is dangerous to the self: see all those annoying studies on black swans for evidence! Almost nobody is rewarded with a consistent living wage; as in many arts fields, a few (and often not the best) take home the main financial reward. I know people who were deeply harmed by not understanding this brute fact. Expectation of financial reward broke them. Expectation of easy publication broke them. Expectation that others would support their work out of love broke them. (Publication is, of course, easier now, with so many new modes, but writers of my generation did not have so many choices. Having many choices presents new problems and unintended consequences, but that's a different rabbit hole to be explored.)
In the comments, you question whether art or "readers and filthy lucre" matter most to the writer. One writer is not all writers, but maybe the life of one writer can shed light on your question. Earlier, you mentioned Hawthorne and Melville; the latter is an especially instructive example. Melville suffered mightily from the withdrawal of readership and encouragement over time, and he lived so very long without it. In the face of people who thought him nigh-mad, in the no-face face of being ignored and forgotten, he kept on making art, writing poems and fiction. He persisted. He died with Billy Budd in the papers on his writing desk. That's courage. Despite whatever flaws a biographer might gleefully unearth, that's human nobility. That's deep-diving devotion to beauty, truth, goodness, and creation.
Seek Giacometti’s “The Palace at 4 a.m.” Go back two hours. See towers and curtain walls of matchsticks, marble, marbles, light, cloud at stasis. Walk in. The beggar queen is dreaming on her throne of words…You have arrived at the web home of Marly Youmans, maker of novels, poetry collections, and stories, as well as the occasional fantasy for younger readers.
- Seren of the Wildwood 2023
- Charis in the World of Wonders 2020
- The Book of the Red King 2019
- Maze of Blood 2015
- Glimmerglass 2014
- Thaliad 2012
- The Foliate Head 2012
- A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage 2012
- The Throne of Psyche 2011
- Val/Orson 2009
- Ingledove 2005
- Claire 2003
- The Curse of the Raven Mocker 2003
- The Wolf Pit 2001
- Catherwood 1996
- Little Jordan 1995
- Short stories and poems
- Honors, praise, etc.
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Saturday, May 27, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
|Clive Hicks-Jenkins, My Dream Farm|
Who is your favorite illustrator?
If you had to live inside a painting forever, what painting would you choose?
More Quora frittering:
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
The Rollipoke News no. 3 is now out! If you're a subscriber to my newsletter, please check your spam if you do not see a copy.... (And if you wish to subscribe, leave your email address in the Rollipoke subscription slot in the right-hand column.)
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Here is my interview.
And thanks to those who have already shared on social media.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Sarah Raphael-Balme at Lotte Inch, York
CLIVE HICKS-JENKINS & SARAH RAPHAEL-BALME
THE MIND'S EYE
12th May 2017 - 17th June 2017
"Featuring the weird and wonderful, the imagined and the exaggerated, with prints and original paintings by artist, illustrator and designer Clive Hicks-Jenkins and York based painter Sarah Raphael-Balme."
As you can see, original art from Maze of Blood is among the offerings. (The book was Finalist, Forewood Book of the Year Awards, and was featured in Favorite Books of the Year at Books and Culture and Books of 2015 in First Things.) And there are cunning little pendants from Clive as well.
More about the Sarah Raphael-Balme and Clive Hicks-Jenkins here.
|Interior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins for Maze of Blood|
Lots more of her images collected here
|More about Lotte Inch Gallery here|
You can see one of the Gawain prints,
a pen-and-ink piece from The Foliate Head,
as well as copies of Hansel and Gretel,
Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Maze of Blood,
and Six Poets The Book of Ystwyth -
Six Poets on the Art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins,
available (click title) post-free from Grey Mare Press.
Friday, May 05, 2017
"Spirit-fall," a poem influenced by Yoruban chant and ancient Hebrew poetry. Originally published by editor Jonathan Farmer in "At Length." Part of a longer sequence. I made the recording using Audacity, and Paul Digby tinkered with the sound afterward.
Photo courtesy of Ignacio Leonardi and sxc.hu
Posted by Marly Youmans at 2:58 AM 6 comments:
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