Were / Are / Will Be.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I knew I wanted to share a passage from this Andrew Solomon speech the moment I read its first paragraph (thanks very much to Kathy Lee for passing it my way). It's called "The Middle of Things: Advice for Young Writers," but I think it's relevant to anyone following a creative path. Below, my favorite bit.


Life is most transfixing when you are awake to diversity, not only of ethnicity, ability, gender, belief, and sexuality but also of age and experience. The worst mistake anyone can make is to perceive anyone else as lesser. The deeper you look into other souls  — and writing is primarily an exercise in doing just that — the clearer people's inherent dignity becomes. So I would like to be young again — for the obvious dermatological advantages, and because I would like to recapture who I was before the clutter of experience made me a bit more sagacious and exhausted. What I'd really like, in fact, is to be young and middle-aged, and perhaps even very old, all at the same time — and to be dark- and fair-skinned, deaf and hearing, gay and straight, male and female. I can't do that in life, but I can do it in writing, and so can you. Never forget that the truest luxury is imagination, and that being a writer gives you the leeway to exploit all of the imagination's curious intricacies, to be what you were, what you are, what you will be, and what everyone else is or was or will be, too.

I love that so much. Read the full speech at The New Yorker, and have a lovely weekend. (Also, thank you for being understanding of my erratic posting lately — will be back on track soon!)

Photos by Emily Johnston, whose spectacular new work can be found here.

10 comments:

Megan said...

These are such beautiful words. And Emily's photos are always, always breathtaking.

kristin | W [H] A T C H said...

what wonderful words.

Kathryn said...

I love these words. Thank you for sharing. It is a good reminder of why I love writing and reading.

Niken said...

thank you for sharing this.

Brianna Soloski said...

Thank you for this. The whole thing is so on point.

burntfeather said...

It's definitely a lovely trait to be open minded :) Or try and step in others shoes!

Kathy said...

Emily Johnston's work is beautiful! It's amazing to see what she sees, and the ones you have chosen fit with the speech perfectly.

Shoko said...

So glad you all liked it as much as I did.

Kathy, her entire portfolio blows me away!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.

Rachel said...

Loved this. This was my favorite part: "Remember that writing things down makes them real; that it is nearly impossible to hate anyone whose story you know; and, most of all, that even in our post-postmodern era, writing has a moral purpose. With twenty-six shapes arranged in varying patterns, we can tell every story known to mankind, and make up all the new ones—indeed, we can do so in most of the world’s known tongues. If you can give language to experiences previously starved for it, you can make the world a better place."

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