Things I’m Thinking About and Trying to Achieve

11 February 2014
7:33 PM


I read this last night and thought about the contents of our own letters–what we succeed in saying, versus what we try to say, versus what we fail to say. I thought about the intimacy of writing and reading a letter, how different it is when you are talking in front of the one you love, or even just someone you know.

Frank O’Hara said that the only truth is face-to-face. I think of letters–ours, and other people’s–how they are mirrors of both the writers and the readers, the senders and the receivers. What do we face when we read someone else’s words addressed to the Other? What do we see when we ourselves put those words down on paper?

A quote I chanced upon:

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perhaps I’ll make a project out of this.

I’ve been trying to write about Pierre Reverdy these past few weeks. I don’t know why I am still unable to find the words.

There are more things that I also have to tell you. That’s a letter that’s still waiting to be written. It’s painful, yet also not that painful, if I think about it. Just things that are happening with me, lately.

I’m trying to get to zero inbox, but I’ve got a long way to go. I haven’t been checking my mail regularly since November, so I’m stuck with 2,000+ unread emails. I know a lot of it is not important, and I could just select them all and send to trash. Problem solved. Still, there’s a part of me that worries about what I might miss. I had those emails sent to me for a reason–I didn’t subscribe to some sites via a feed reader like any normal person, instead, I gave my email address so the updates will come directly to me. And now I’m drowning, and I only have myself to blame.

I watched Her some days ago. It weighed heavy on the soul. I don’t think I can write about it. Not for a very long time.

Another thing I unearthed last night:

“…I mean, art is tough. If you’re a writer there’s always a reason to be upset about something. Writing, if you expect people to recognize and appreciate you and treat you differently, is a series of small humiliations. It’s no fun approaching art as a journey through rejection but it’s easy to do, and any artist can do it, at any stage in their career. There are a handful of exceptions, like Dave Eggers and Joan Didion, the ridiculously famous, but even people you think are succesful, say with one solid best seller under their belt and a fancy teaching job, can live a life of rejection. Especially if they’re trying to switch into television. Or if they’re turning out too many books and were nominated for an award early in their career.

The other day Bob sent an email about why you’re not going to make it in the music business. The money quote was “The reason you’re making no money in the music business is because you’re just not good enough.”

On the face of it that seems like cold water. Look around, clear your head. I certainly believe in a certain amount of meritocracy. I believe every very good book will find a publisher, though most won’t make any real money, not rent money, or health insurance money. Maybe no money at all. The number one reason you won’t publish a book is not because you’re not good enough, it’s because you haven’t written it.

…So when do you know it’s time to give up? How about never? How about you never get to know that you were or weren’t good enough.

– Stephen Elliott, from The Daily Rumpus, dated 28 November 2013

When you said that you were afraid of what you were going to say, this phrase found its way again to me, and I wished so much that you can keep it in your pocket: to speak, even if your voice shakes.

In two days it will be a year since we started this. How much do you think we have grown?



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