Emotion recollected in tranquillity

"I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition generally begins, and in a mood similar to this it is carried on; but the emotion, of whatever kind, and in whatever degree, from various causes, is qualified by various pleasures, so that in describing any passions whatsoever, which are voluntarily described, the mind will, upon the whole, be in a state of enjoyment."

...innit tho'.

Reminded of the quote and just spent 20 minutes trying to Google it right and remember who said it, so sticking it here.

- William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 1800

The ending comes first

I love this quote from Aaron Sorkin, about writing a film about Steve Jobs:

"If I can end the movie with that text, with that voiceover - 'here's to the crazy ones' - if I can earn that ending then I'll have written the movie I want to write."

I like how he is setting out to "earn" an ending. It sounds as if he is yet to write it or is in the middle of it, but I love that the ending, the thematic significance of the film, is what he has uppermost in his mind, and what he is aiming for. He wants the film to end in a certain way and to say something, not just follow a character in the course of a conflict, as so many screenwriting books exhort writers to do.

I am midway through a second draft of my novel, and also have an ending in mind I hope I can achieve. It's possible it might change, and you must always leave yourself open to that possibility, but I would be disappointed if my story did not make it.

In my beginning is my end, said Toilets in 'East Coker'. It is also true that you cannot really write the beginning of a story without knowing how it ends. The beginning of my story coils and flips in my head like a fish in a deep fat fryer the further away I get from it. When I finish the ending I shall need to go back to the beginning and rewrite it.


An oldie but goodie

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath -- a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.

- Catherine Earnshaw, chapter 9, Wuthering Heights



Loneliness, and the thrill of being alone

Love this description of being on one's own in an article by Rachel Cooke:

Anything could have happened, and who cared if I had to live on thin air! The two feelings – the loneliness, and the thrill of being alone – were conjoined; I could no more have separated them than I could have bought a flat in Chelsea. And so my mood seemed to be always in a state of flux: one minute, I was on top of the world; the very pavements could provoke a smile. The next, I would feel as low as I ever had: overwhelmed, and desperate for home.

- Rachel Cooke, 'The Best of Everything by  Rona Jaffe: The original Sex and the City', The Guardian, 8 May 2011


Internet vs writing

"The internet is of no relevance at all to the business of writing fiction directly, which is about expressing certain kinds of verities that are only found through observation and introspection. It's an incredibly powerful tool and you'd be stupid not to use it, but it’s a distraction in the actual business of writing."

- Will Self, quoted by Carl Wilkinson in 'Shutting out a world of distraction', 6 September 2012, The Telegraph

An ulterior existence

We do not get swept up as readily as might be by the big-screen excitements of film. But if we do read perseveringly we make available to ourselves, in a most portable form, an ulterior existence. We hold in our hands a way to cut against the momentum of our times. We can resist the skimming tendency and delve; we can restore, if only for a time, the vanishing assumption of coherence. The beauty of the vertical engagement is that it does not have to argue for itself. It is self-contained, a fulfilment.

- Sven Birkerts, 'The Own Has Flown', The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, p.76