Words on Writing
The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa
I’m always amazed when I finish something. Amazed and distressed. My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing; it should inhibit me from even beginning. But I get distracted and begin doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will’s surrender. I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice.
The Poet Never Rests, Jorge Luis Borges
The poet never rests.
He’s always working, even when he dreams.
Besides, the life of a writer is a lonely one.
You think you are alone, and as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the centre of a vast circle of invisible friends who you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward.
On Writing, John Berger
“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”
― John Berger, Keeping a Rendezvous
“Autobiography begins with a sense of being alone. It is an orphan form.”
― John Berger
“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.”
― John Berger, Ways of Seeing
“If every event which occurred could be given a name, there would be no need for stories.”
― John Berger, Once In Europa
“When in love, the sight of the beloved has a completeness which no words and no embrace can match: a completeness which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate”
― John Berger, Ways of Seeing
Sculpting in Time, Andrei Tarkovsky
“It is a mistake to talk about the artist looking for his subject. In fact, the subject grows within him like a fruit and begins to demand expression. It is like childbirth. The poet has nothing to be proud of. He is not master of the situation, but a servant. Creative work is his only possible form of existence, and his every work is like a deed he has no power to annul. For him to be aware that the sequence of such deeds is due and ripe, that it lies in the very nature of things, he has to have faith in the idea; for only faith interlocks the system of images for which read system of life.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
“A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that he’s worth something. And if I know for sure that I’m a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“The film [Stalker] needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“Never try to convey your idea to the audience – it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“…art must must carry man’s craving for the ideal, must be an expression of his reaching out towards it; that art must give man hope and faith. And the more hopeless the world in the artist’s version, the more clearly perhaps must we see the ideal that stands in opposition – otherwise life becomes impossible! Art symbolises the meaning of our existence.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
“I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“The director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen, even if not everyone finds that truth acceptable. Of course an artist can lose his way, but even his mistakes are interesting provided they are sincere. For they represent the reality of his inner life, of the peregrinations and struggle into which the external world has thrown him.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“My objective is to create my own world and these images which we create mean nothing more than the images which they are. We have forgotten how to relate emotionally to art: we treat it like editors, searching in it for that which the artist has supposedly hidden. It is actually much simpler than that, otherwise art would have no meaning. You have to be a child—incidentally children understand my pictures very well, and I haven’t met a serious critic who could stand knee-high to those children. We think that art demands special knowledge; we demand some higher meaning from an author, but the work must act directly on our hearts or it has no meaning at all.”
― Andrei Tarkovsky
“What moved me was the theme of the harmony which is born only of sacrifice, the twofold experience of love. It’s not a question of mutual love: what nobody seems to understand is that love can only be one-sided, that no other love exists, that in any other form it is not love. If it involves less than total giving, it is not love. It is impotent; for the moment, it is nothing.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
“Clearly the hardest thing for the working artist is to create his own conception and follow it, unafraid of the strictures it imposes, however rigid these may be… I see it as the clearest evidence of genius when an artist follows his conception, his idea, his principle, so unswervingly that he has this truth of his constantly in his control, never letting go of it even for the sake of his own enjoyment of his work.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky
“Art is by nature aristocratic, and naturally selective in its effect on the audience. For even in its ‘collective’ manifestations, like theatre or cinema, its effect is bound up with the intimate emotions of each person who comes into contact with a work. The more the individual is traumatised and gripped by these emotions, the more significant a place will the work have in his experience.
The aristocratic nature of art, however does not in any way absolve the artist of his responsibility to his public and even, if you like, more broadly, to people in general. On the contrary, because of his special awareness of his time and of the world in which he lives, the artist becomes the voice of those who cannot formulate or express their view of reality. In that sense the artist is indeed vox populi. That is why he is called to serve his own talent, which means serving his people.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
What I Know
There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.
The Unlived Life
If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.
(The War of Art, Steven Pressfield. New York : Black Irish Entertainment, 2002)
Steering the Craft, Ursula K Le Guin
The Sound of Your Writing
The sound of the language is where it all begins. The test of a sentence is, Does it sound right? The basic elements of language are physical: the noise words make, the sounds and silences that make the rhythms marking their relationships. Both the meaning and the beauty of the writing depend on these sounds and rhythms. This is just as true of prose as it is of poetry, though the sound effects of prose are usually subtle and always irregular.
Pick Up The Pen, Lu Xun
Pick up the pen, fight to the end!