Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Writing Is....Fun!

When I was a kid growing up in Allentown, PA, we had a swimming teacher who would, as I remember it, start and end every class with, SWIMMING IS..... FUN! (And we were all supposed to shout FUN with him.) I think he did that for the kids who thought swimming was not fun. I loved swimming (I was terrified of diving, though) so I thought Mr. McGinley's salvo was kind of embarrassing. Why would you state the obvious? But for the kids who were scared of the water, or who thought the lessons were a chore, I hope that his declaration made a difference. 

I doubt it did. If you are scared of the water, swimming will not be fun until and if you are not scared any more. You might be glad you did it, afterwards, but while you are doing it, you are just trying to, you know, stay alive. 

Some people wake up happy in the morning. Usually I wake up feeling like it is the end of the world. (Except on vacation, after I've adjusted to the new place.) I don't know why, because after about half an hour and a good cup of coffee, I feel fine. But most of the time..well, Ray Bradbury said it best: 

"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together." 

(I'm glad it takes me only a cup of coffee!)

Some people think writing is fun. I actually do, a lot of the time. I am less happy with the whole publishing process. As in, putting your work out there for other people to see. To me that's like diving off the high dive. I'll do it because I have to, but I am terrified. Other people think writing is torture. And yet they do it, day after day, year after year. Of course one cannot let fear get in the way.  

Ray Bradbury, again (and thanks to Judy Blundell for these quotes; she knows me well): 

"I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That's a different thing ... Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad - you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I'll be damned, it's been a good year."

I am, with some degree of pessimism and promises to myself of optimal behavior, looking to the summer as a productive researching and writing time. Vincent needs my attention, and he will get it. Recently I came across two quotes of Miro's that spoke to me about my writing and researching process. He said them both in 1933: 

"A painting must be fertile. It must give birth to a world." 


"Regarding my expressive means, I try to achieve maximum clarity, power and plastic aggressiveness every time--in short, to provoke first and foremost a physical sensation before reaching the soul." 

Both of these apply to nonfiction writing, I think, as well as to painting, and to fiction writing. Because what are we trying to do as nonfiction writers but give birth to a world by achieving maximum clarity, power, and even plastic aggressiveness--to, yes, provoke a physical sensation? 

So this summer I will be putting myself back together every morning, and jumping into the writing pool. I will also be diving off the high dive (or maybe I will jump feet first, which seems easier) with the publication of my first YA novel, Intentions.  

And I will also be enjoying life and my loved ones as much as I can. As I write this, a friend is fighting for his life, with his wife, my dear friend, by his side. Last month my husband and I took a sublime trip to Rome to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We walked and walked, ate and ate, drank and drank red wine, and revelled in our good fortune. We also saw some things (including a Miro exhibit, hence those quotes). One of the highlights was a personal tour (thanks to INKer Susan Kuklin!) of the Etruscan Museum by the former director. There we saw inscribed on plates, bowls, wine cups, one of their favorite sayings: “Today we will drink, tomorrow, who knows.”

Yes. Today we will write, swim, dive, drink, and love. Life is Fun. Happy summer, everyone. 


Clara Gillow Clark said...

Delighted to learn that your YA will be out this summer. Can't wait to own a copy.

I loved that Etruscan saying, "Today we will drink, tomorrow, who knows." And Judy's words, "Action is hope."

Happy summer, Deb!

Deborah Heiligman said...

I think Judy would be happy and embarrassed that you think she was the one who said that. Twas Ray Bradbury! Sorry if that wasn't clear. And yes, I'm excited about the novel. Swimming in new territory.

Karen Romano Young said...

Yes to "Action is hope." Thanks for this. I think swimming is one of the first fears I learned to conquer -- and I was one of the ones who loved it! Again, thanks for this. How about a book about swimming lessons, Deb?

Annalisa said...

Hip Hip Hurray!!

Totally agree! Drawing, writing, swimming, and dancing are FUN!!!


Anonymous said...

"A painting must be fertile. It must give birth to a world."

Love that. You are such a good quote collector.

CC said...

I always feel HAVING written and or drawn is fun but while doing it its work.

Inspirational, never the less. :-)