Tuesday, July 17, 2012

freely and abundantly

“Don't try to rush things: for the cup to run over, it must first be filled.”

Antonio Machado

“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. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

That as a writer, a creative person, there will be times when you are completely hollowed out, empty, dry.  At other times, your begging bowl, your nest, your cup, will fill.  There will be an abundance. An overflow.  This is the natural state of the artist - this place of overflowing, spillage.  It's only when the circumstances of life intervene, disrupt, interrupt, that this slows.  "Do not hurry, do not rest," said Goethe.  And it's like that.  Walk steadily, goes a proverb, with a full cup.  Hurry, don't hurry.

But also, don't be satisfied with a cup that is merely full.  Dare to let it spill over the edges.  Don't hold something back for later.

Artists keep coming back to the same image, motif, time and again, and so can we writers. Work through an idea, and work through it again, transforming it, understanding it in a new context, from a new angle.

Most likely you've heard all of the above before.  But since I always forget such things when life has been intervening in my creative flow, I thought them worth repeating.


  1. Good advice. I printed it to remind myself. And what luscious colours of candies - they can't be smarties, can they?

  2. I have been away on vacation and not read your blog for almost two weeks. How I have missed it and am so happy to return to it and then catch up on what I missed. We NEED to be reminded often of things we may know and forget. Thank you for your inspirations. I couldn't help comparing my "meager" photos from my vacation to the gorgeous ones you post. Mine are just enough to inspire me to vacation again and thus I will be thankful for that.

  3. Lucy, yes smarties : ) Glad you liked the advice. Do you have the Annie Dillard book? I could loan you mine.

    Edna - welcome back! Oh, I'll bet your photos are lovely! and I hope they inspire you to travel again!


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