Time-traveling on the Devon coast
Boredom in the studio...

This is sacred work

Autumn on the Commons

From "O.K., You're Not Shakespeare. Now Get Back to Work," an excellent essay by Allegra Goodman:

"Treat writing as a sacred act. Just as the inner critic loves to dwell on the past, she delights in worrying about the future. 'Who would want to read this?' she demands. 'Nobody is going to publish a book like that!' Such nagging can incapacitate unpublished writers. Published writers, on the other hand, know that terrible books come out all the time. They anguish: 'The reviewers are going to crucify me, and nobody will want to publish me after that.'

"But take a step back. What are you really afraid of here? When you come down to it, this is just a case of the inner critic masquerading as public opinion, and playing on your vanity.

Meldon Hill


"I know only one way out of this trap, which is to concentrate on your writing itself, for itself. Figuring out what the public wants, or even what the public is: that's the job of pollsters and publicists and advertisers. All those people study the marketplace. But the creative artist can change the world. A true writer opens people's ears and eyes, not merely playing to the public, but changing minds and lives. This is sacred work.

Marsh pond

"Love your material. Nothing frightens the inner critic more than the writer who loves her work. The writer who is enamored of her material forgets all about censoring herself. She doesn't stop to wonder if her book is any good, or who will publish it, or what people will think. She writes in a trance, losing track of time, hearing only her characters in her head.

By the Lower Commons stream

Autumn leaves

"This is a state of grace possible only when you are truly desperate to tell a story."

Tree Elder, lower CommonsWords: The essay quoted above was first published in The New York Times (March 12, 2001), and is well worth reading in full. The poem in the picture captions is from Wake Up in Brightness  (Poetry in the Schools, Seattle 2009). All rights reserved by the authors. A related post: "When Every Day is Judgement Day." Pictures: A walk on the village Commons earlier this week.