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"Everything contributes."

After years of remembering this quote but not being able to remember who said it, nor being able to find it via Google, tonight I picked up a paperback of short stories that had been assigned in my undergrad days, and found it in the introduction. Here it is, for my records and your enlightenment:

"Carson McCullers...once asked Hortense Calisher if she had wanted her children, saying that she herself had felt children would interfere with her work. Hortense Calisher answered, 'Yes, I did want them, and yes, they did interfere--but everything does. And everything contributes. Writers know this instinctively.'"*

THANK you, Ms. Calisher! I have clung to those words for inspiration in dark and busy times even though I couldn't remember your name. And, appropriately, I picked up the book as something to look at while pacing around with the baby in the front carrier, getting him to fall asleep.

It's another way of saying, "If you don't live life, how can you possibly write about it?", which I have to keep reminding myself when I get tempted to lock myself up and avoid the world.

*Quote from Women and Fiction, ed. Susan Cahill, 1975.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
pith
Dec. 2nd, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent quotation. Somewhere along the line, I think people got the notion that writing is some magical, mystical gift granted by the gods and that we all have to devote ourselves wholly to it. That would be a nice life if any of us could have it, but the reality is that most writers have families and "outside lives" and (until they get popular/famous enough) other jobs. I think writing is fabulous, don't get me wrong, but if you pack up your pen and paper the moment a distraction creeps in, you're not a writer.

(Apologies for any typos. This font shows up super small on my monitor.)
mollyringle
Dec. 4th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
I just changed the style again, so this should be easier to read now. :)

Yes, I never quite bought the importance of starving and suffering for one's art. Writing for 15 minutes whenever you get a chance is quite good enough, and might even have a beneficial distilling effect on what you choose to write.
thomas_a_kempis
Dec. 2nd, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
Wouldst Consider A Chair Swing for Lemondrop?
Even though we weren't writing books, we gave thanks for the inventors of the motor operated infant chair swing...perhaps that is how Kalquessa wound up wanting to ride Clip Clop The Wonder Horse into oblivion, it worked well with her and it beat taking her for a ride in the car to get her to sleep.

Sleep, sweet sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. :)

Attagirl,

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mollyringle
Dec. 4th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Wouldst Consider A Chair Swing for Lemondrop?
We don't have a motorized swing, but I've thought about it. Might work, since sometimes the car does the trick; but might not, since he more often likes the close proximity to Mom or Dad as a ticket to sleep. On such days I just consider it a good weight-bearing exercise to carry him around!
thomas_a_kempis
Dec. 5th, 2006 02:43 am (UTC)
Re: Wouldst Consider A Chair Swing for Lemondrop?
If you're happy, it's ok...

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kalquessa
Dec. 3rd, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
True dat.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )