Today’s newsletter is full of good stuff.
I spent 40 minutes or so this morning watching and doodling Greil Marcus’s “Why I Write” lecture, recommended by Stephanie Zacharek as “deeply personal and… extraordinary. It may help anyone involved in any creative endeavor who’s feeling…stuck.”
I write for fun. I write for play. I write for the play of words.
I write to discover what I want to say and how to say it.
And the nerve to say it.
The key word for me isn’t ‘fun,’ isn’t ‘play,’ but it’s ‘discover.’
I live for those moments when something appears on the page as if of its own volition, as if I had nothing to do with what is now looking at me in the face…
He then tells the story of the father who he never met, who was also named Greil.
(Perhaps this is too obvious, but unless I missed something, he never explicitly points out that his name sounds like “grail,” or the mysterious thing which is eagerly pursued and sought after. In fact, if you try to type his name into your computer, spell check will correct it to “grail” — nominative determinism!) *
You can watch the whole thing on YouTube.
* I was struck by the autodidact’s curse here: I’d always read Greil as “Grail” and ignored all evidence to the contrary, though Greil emailed me and told me when his great-grandfather first emigrated from Prague to Alabama, the name was pronounced “grail” and changed to “greel,” so maybe I was onto something after all. (In talks, whenever I have to pronounce a name like “Brancusi,” I joke that I’m from Texas, so I’m allowed to mispronounce anything I want to.)
“I am determined to have fun doing my work… if I’m enjoying myself then that feeling is passed on to the reader.”
In life and on the page.
Barely anybody around is having any fun right now, and we need people to show us how it’s done.
I ask myself this question all the time now: “Who seems like they’re really having fun with it?”
I try to identify who’s having fun with it and then I try to see if there’s something I can steal from them.
I used to go to Bob’s Big Boy restaurant just about every day from the mid-seventies until the early eighties. I’d have a milk shake and sit and think. There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milk shake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner.—David Lynch, Catching The Big Fish
What is a vacation and why do we go on one?
Last week I was sitting by myself in an IHOP in Cambridge, MA, eating a $5 breakfast special. Here I was, on vacation in a great big city, on a beautiful college campus, with tons of exotic sights to see…and all I wanted to do was sit in this mundane little restaurant and drink coffee and think and doodle in my sketchbook.
Idling without guilt.
It was delicious.
In the early 1890s, GK Chesterton wrote that there were 3 types of leisure:
The first is being allowed to do something. The second is being allowed to do anything. And the third (and perhaps most rare and precious) is being allowed to do nothing.
This weekend, I encourage you to not feel pressured to fill your holiday with activities. Go someplace mundane where the coffee flows and let your mind wander. Savor it.