Monday, November 16, 2015

Two Inspirations

Post by Jenny

I don’t know if the early dark of post-daylight savings time is getting to me, or the fact that I’m not participating in the fun, all-out writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo, but I’ve needed a little inspiration this week. The holidays are approaching, bringing the end of the year in tow, and that always gets me thinking about what I have (and haven’t) accomplished. If you’re feeling a bit of the same thing, I hope you will find some encouragement, as I have, in these two stories:

The painter Carmen Herrera turned 100 this year. That’s pretty impressive, and we should all be so lucky. But what really resonates with me is her capacity for patience and persistence. As a woman of Cuban heritage, she was an outsider in the New York art world in the 1950s and received little-to- no recognition. But she kept at it and never wavered from her vision, saying in a 2010 interview with the Observer, “When you’re known, you want to do the same thing again to please people. And, as nobody wanted what I did, I was pleasing myself, and that’s the answer.”

It’s good advice, and you’ve probably heard something similar before. Now back to the patience and persistence part: though she has since become the toast of the art world, Carmen Herrera didn’t make her first sale until the age of 89, 60 or so years after she began painting. “Someone once told me,” she says, “if you wait for the bus, the bus will come.”

Larry McMurtry’s bus arrived much earlier. His first novel, Horseman, Pass By, came out when he was just 25 years old and was made into the movie Hud a few years later. McMurtry wrote ten books before the Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove turned him into a household name. After that tremendous success, he moved to Washington, D.C. and opened a store selling rare and used books—arguably a man at the top of the literary world.

Then he suffered a heart attack, underwent quadruple bypass surgery, and fell into a deep depression. He “faded out of (his) life” and for a year could barely get up from the couch. Even though he didn’t even feel like reading, he continued to write for an hour or two each morning. At the end of that difficult year, he had what would become Streets of Laredo, the sequel to Lonesome Dove. McMurtry is now 79 years old and has written more than 30 novels.

Sometimes, giving up is easy and seems like the best course of action. But many, many people have succeeded in the face of adversity, so why not keep at it? Maybe your bus is right around the corner.

When you’re feeling stuck, who or what inspires your writing?


Patricia Stoltey said...

I keep thinking my next book should be called, "2015: A Year of Being Stuck!"

I just read Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" which is has a lot of excellent stuff about creativity, so I'm trying to use that as my launching pad to a new energetic and creative me. We'll see what happens.

Abbie Taylor said...

As the song goes, "You can't please everyone so you got to please yourself." I usually don't care what others think of my writing. If I sell books, that's great. If not, it's not the end of the world. I just keep going no matter what.

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