Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gems of Wisdom by Pat Marcantel

Do many of you save gems of wisdom from writers and/or artists? My own personal "gem" on writing is that it is so ingrained in my psyche that I have to do it. It doesn't matter if it's never published or even read by anyone else. I first wrote poems to my mom and dad and to my brother. Then I wrote letters to that same brother when he went off to war. And so the writing never stopped. Here are some gems that I've picked up along the way from writers far more prolific and talented than I will ever be.

"One of the questions a writer is most often asked is, 'Where do you get your ideas?' If a person does not have ideas, he or she better not even think of becoming a writer. But ideas are everywhere. The daily newspaper could keep you writing for years. Ideas are all about us, in the people we meet, the way we live, travel and how we think about things. It's important to remember that we are writing about people. Ideas are important only as they affect people. And we are writing about emotion. A few people reason, but all people feel."

"There are only a certain number of plots (as value patterns are limited) and they are very basic. A plot is nothing but a normal human situation that keeps arising again and again. Shakespeare's work has lived as long as it has because he dealt with normal human emotions such as envy, ambition, rivalry, love, hate, greed, and so on. These are basic drives among and are with us forever."

"Start writing, no matter what about. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." ~ Louis L'Amour

Will Durant said: "A book is a friend that will do what no friend does--be silent when we wish to think."

And Gustave Flaubert said, "Talent is nothing but long patience."

A. H. Maslow: "...[we assume that] creativeness consists of lightning striking you on the head in one glorious moment. The fact that the people who create are good workers tends to be lost."

Last is Sidney Harris: "Self-discipline without talent can often achieve astounding results, whereas talent without self-discipline inevitably dooms itself to failure."

To wrap all of this up: Write because you want to, have to, care to, or just because. Become a people watcher and listener and a newspaper reader. Do not wait until lightning strikes you on the head to begin writing, turn the faucet on now. Develop patience and self-discipline in your writing and in your life.

Finish what you start. How many neglected, half (more or less) finished works do we have stashed in our poor computers, or languishing in notebooks stacked ever so neatly? Don't you dare lie and say, "Oh, I don't have any writing hanging around like that." I know I can't be the only one who has neglected children.

"Consider the postage stamp. Its usefulness consists of its ability to stick to one thing until it gets there." ~Henry Wheeler Shaw

Artist/Author Pat Marcantel can be found blogging and hanging out on Facebook and Twitter any day of the week. Her poetry and photographs can be found in Swamp Lily Review. She's the author of Oberlin: The First 100 Years. If you'd like a copy, contact Pat.


  1. Thanks, Pat. I needed that. It's off to my desk in spite of the major messes in my two bathrooms. I'll call the plumber later.

  2. Said the mother of five (blogs). What an inspiration you are to us, Pat. Thanks for passing this on. Happy writing.

  3. Pat, what a great article. My daughter, Camille, and I were talking about observation yesterday. She wants to be a writer so she will also appreciate your comments. A change in the point of view can give multiple stories from just one incident. I hope to learn the craft of writing so that I can share those observations with other.

  4. What a great post, Pat. Makes me wonder how much I could have accomplished if I'd always known I wanted to be a writer. I've always enjoyed it, found it easy, and once, in my early first marriage, actually thought about giving it a try. However, my life at the time wasn't very kind to my self-esteem. But...that's my first novel. Just goes to show how important all those life experiences are (both good and bad), to adding to our own personal stash of gems.

  5. Pat, thanks for the good info. and the humor. You make it sound fo easy, but fun too.

  6. Thanks everyone for the kind comments. Writers and artists are some of the nicest people in the world--generous, helpful, encouraging. (Even if we chop off an ear).