Fear of your own difference – as your writing will show it to people – was a thing we talked about yesterday in the Saturday classes at the National Libary Cafe. Fear that you’re not original enough in some way that the tribe values, and are too original in ways that it won’t… And can you guess that I’m going to say you just have to say ‘Phooey!’ to all of that? At our strangest, we are most alike, for a start, I believe. And our utter honesty, voiced from wherever we believe we stand – or stand out – in life is one of our deepest sources. Thinking about Leonard Cohen this morning for some strange reason ( but sure, whoever needs a reason to think warmly of Len?). Lines from Chelsea Hotel were on my mind: “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best / I can’t keep track of each fallen robin/ / I remember you well, in the Chelsea Hotel/ that’s all, I don’t think of you that often.” And it was hitting me that the honesty about his own heart and humanity (and their limits) are the things that make those lines last.
Just about related are these words I read today from Tennessee Williams, courtesy of my beautiful new copy of his journals just found at Alice’s Eclectic Books in Peoples’ Park Market! (Too much to read to know where to start, today. The Williams book, and Dermot Ferriter’s Occasions of Sin, Vermeer’s Hat, (the history of the start of the consumer age in 17th C Holland) and the amazing-from-page-one novel ENGLISH TRAVELLERS by Matthew Kneale ). And this is what Tennessee wrote to himself in his twenties: “I believe that the way to write a good play is to convince yourself that it is easy to do – then go ahead and do it with ease. Don’t maul, don’t suffer, don’t groan – till the first draft is finished. Then Calvary, but not till then. Doubt and be lost, until the first draft is finished.”
And here below, if the link works, is the confidence to make your own sound, embodied by Tommy Potts! Fantastic fiddler Aifric Boylan gave me Tommy’s Claddagh CD yesterday, and I think I’ll be listening to him forever now. At all kinds of times, including times when I’m afraid of the strangeness of my own voice.
P.S: we have a couple of late spots in NLI writing classes on Saturdays due to problems a couple of booked-in folks have turned out to have with getting there this term. 8-week and 7 week spots available at two levels: a gentle half-class half-workshop, 10.30 – 12.30 and a workshop from 2 p.m. – 4. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested!