Friday, April 15, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “ A good intention clothes itself with power.”

In order to write a poem, a short story, or a novel, the beginning is set by the intention. Writer's are inevitably asked this question, “What prompted you to write this book?”

J.K Rowling, riding a train and looking out the window, had this thought: What if there was a wizard school? That one fleeting moment evolved into an empire. It made her a fortune and touched the lives of an entire generation.

She said that in her mind, she was given the sense that the trick would be in getting it published, but after that, it would be really big. She set her intention from that minute forward. Her thoughts came tumbling out, and she had nothing then to write with. As soon as she could get pen to paper though, her intention was very clear. She would write a book about a wizard school. She wrote as if on fire. An agent picked it right up, but eleven publishers turned it down. She did not despair because she was still focused on her intent. The rest is history.

The Irish have a saying about this topic.: "Throw your cap over the wall. You'll have no choice but to go after it."

The race to the moon was described in these terms and it was achieved in record time.

Is it enough to see a writer through? Yes, if the focus is constant. A writer is essentially creating something out of nothing. It feels, at times, in the dark nights of despair, that the nothing wants its nothingness back. Yet, anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

“There are so many more important things you could be doing.” I have heard this more than once from very well meaning friends. It was most likely my own fault for complaining, for whining about the nothing nipping at my heels. I learned it is a better idea to vent to other artists and writers who never, not in their wildest dreams, would ever encourage any work to go back to a blank page. Creating for the sake of creating may not seem that noble, yet if that was the intent, there is no turning back.

Books have shaped my life, they have given meaning to my very existence. Sharing our stories, telling others about the beauty of North Idaho, about the people who came before us, unearthing great moments in history and bringing them to life, that has meaning.

My father had a book of poems reprinted that were written by his grandfather. When he gave me that book, I had a glimpse of another light, one that had fallen away in the busy post war years. I knew the heart of a man I had not had the privilege to know except through his poems.

He helped set my path. I would not dare to presume I could do the same, but it has always been my intention. I want to share what I have gleaned from my time upon this earth, with someone who will never meet me or see me, but will know something of me, nevertheless.

That is why I am given to writing.

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of the friends or thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
John Donne

1 comment:

Jennifer Rova said...

So many things motivate us to write, often out of the blue. I think it is like being an artist or a composer. We either have the ideas and can put them on paper or not. One has the disposition to be a doctor or an engineer liking what those tasks involve. We like writing our story on paper not necessarily for others but the need to get them out of our heads.
Great postings this week.