Saturday, January 24, 2009

Heather King on motivation

You've heard me wax poetic about Heather King and her amazing memoir. A few months ago, I emailed her, asking (although I may not have put it in quite these words) for a kick in the butt--thoughts on how to keep on keeping on as a writer. Now, on the eve of REDEEMED's paperback debut , I thought I'd share her wise words. Here's part 1:

An interviewer asked me recently if I had any advice for aspiring writers, and I replied, “No. Either you have to write, or you don’t. If you do, you won’t need my 'advice'; and if you don’t, you’re doing something other than writing as I know it." I return again and again to this quote from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet:

"In the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied to you to write. This above all--ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: Must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this shall be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple I must, then build your life according to this necessity; your life into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it."

So it’s not a matter of staying motivated: do you have to “stay motivated” to want sex with the person you love, to breathe? Rilke’s point is that you have to go inward; the motivation, if that’s the word—I like desire better—has to be to take writing literally as a matter of life and death, and to arrange your life accordingly. The way you arrange your life isn’t going to be the way I arrange mine, but that’s the beauty of it; our entire lives, each precious and unique, become an act of ongoing creation. I think what makes writing “hard” is when your goal is to get attention and praise for yourself, or some variation of that—which, trust me, I am as prey to, if not more prey to, as the next person. But if you’re burning to tell something, out of love for the world, for God, to give glory to Him; because you’ve gotten a taste of the “living water” and you’re on fire with astonishment and wonder, then nothing can hold you back. Your life will order itself, and so will your writing day."

What matters to you so much that you arrange your life around it?

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

Playing music and traveling to other countries. The music thing got left by the wayside in light of so many incredibly talented and trained people here in Boston, but it's starting to make a comeback, so in the schedule it goes!