Every now and then I go in search of clever quotes by other writers. Usually I am looking for a simple sentence or two to express what I’m feeling on the subject on that particular day. Sometimes something silly attracts me. Sometimes it’s more serious. Today was such a day but instead of finding something simple I found a rather lengthy passage that brought me, well, let’s be honest here – to tears.
I’ve only come across this sort of thing two or three times in the past, a passage or experience that speaks to me on such a spiritual level that it’s like I could have written it or said it myself. Maybe it’s the knowing that I am not alone feeling as deeply as I do about writing. Someone recently asked me for some advice on writing and how I continue even in down times. What drives me to go on despite the struggles of a blank page? I told her that I simply cannot NOT write. It’s as much a part of me as breathing. If I stopped breathing, I would die. When there comes a day when I can no longer write, I may as well be dead.
And so, without further adieu, I present you with this quote by Rainer Marie Rilke:
“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…
…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. – And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.”
Write on, my friends! Write on.