living with the work you've done by doing for the future

Monday, June 15, 2015

As much as I love holding a finished book in my hand—quietly, alone, when the big box arrives—nothing gives me greater peace than to know that I have a new idea stirring. New worlds to build. New characters to decode. New metaphors.

Working toward the next is, in fact, the only way I know how to live with what already exists. How to maintain my perspective. How to keep the spotlight where it must be—not on the past but on the future. How to hold true to who I actually am—a writer, not a brand builder, not a saleswoman, not a stumper.

Yesterday, reading, again Sally Mann's Hold Still, I came upon these words at the start of her ninth chapter. They resonate with me:

When I get asked what one piece of advice I have for young photographers, this is what I tell them: if you are working on a project, and you're thinking maybe it's time to put it out into the world, make sure you have already started your next body of work. Not just started, either: you should be well along on it. You will know that the first project is finished when you find yourself joylessly going through the motions to eke out a few more pictures while, like a forbidden lover, the new ones call seductively to you. This new lover should be irresistible, and when it calls, you will be in its urgent thrall, making the work of your heart.


Aniwde said...

Beth . . . I have not read anything here, yet, I just found it. I am writing here because it was the nearest date. I spent the last few hours in some sort of manic need to find you. Last weekend, I was at the Oregon Coast, and in the giant Redwoods with my 26 year old son Taran. I told him of how we would once write to each other about he and Jeremy at the age of two, three, four, how much alike they were, how small, but perhaps significant the differences, where they were going, what would happen. I read "A Slant of Sun" - I read "Into the Tangle of Friendship" - Before I was lost into chronic pain and the resultant crippling agoraphobia that came with it and I lost touch with . . . everyone. I just pulled up your name on and I cried. I have been crying for more than an hour and I can't stop. I cannot convey at all the burgeoning sense of glory that is filling my chest as I look from one book to the next, as I take in the numbers, the titles and wonder what might be there. Twenty years. It seems like nothing. You may not even remember me, but I have never forgotten you. I am utterly overflowing with what can only be described as bliss that this is where you are, what you have done and that so many, many souls have had the opportunity to read your words and to know you in that way. Congratulations is a hollow world and it is not what I mean. The closest I can come is: Namaste. I bow to the divine in you. I was in Northern Virginia when we wrote. I published a few of your poems in “Welcome Home Magazine” when I was an editor there. I spent years as “Winnie”, but am back to being Edwina. Edwina Peterson Cross. I can certainly see how very busy you are here and I know there is much work that isn’t seen as well. Should you ever find a spare moment, I am here: Whether or not, I needed to say, I am so happy to have found you and to see all the marvels that time (which seems like nothing to me) has wrought for you.

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