“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something will arise for later, something better. These things fill in from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
“After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice, in the handwriting of his old age: ‘Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.’”
- Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
"In 2011, I bet that memory won't play as big a role in your life as it has up until now. I don't mean to say that you will neglect or forget about the past. Rather, I expect that you will be less hemmed in by the consequences of what happened way back when. You'll be able to work around and maybe even transcend the limitations that the old days and the old ways used to impose on you. Your free will? It will be freer than maybe it has ever been. Your creative powers will override the inertia of how things have always been done."
"At age 19, I wanted to be a poet when I grew up. My goal was to write a poem every day forever. And yet I had almost no ambition to get published. I was satisfied to bask in the ecstatic epiphany that accompanied each fresh poetic eruption. Then one day I was browsing in a bookshop and saw a flyer for a big upcoming poetry reading. It included every major poet in my then-hometown of Santa Cruz -- except me. I was shocked and hurt. Why was I left out? Eventually I realized it was because all the other poets listed had written a book. From that moment on I was obsessively driven to publish my own tome. A year later, after much hard work, it came to pass. I would love to see you experience a similar wake-up call in 2011, Pisces: a friendly jolt that motivates you to rise to the next level."
--Free Will Astrology
And so many others that I can't dig up right now.
Because the fear with Cicatrix, the big fear, bigger even than the emotional evisceration it involves - because let's face it, emotion evisceration is pretty much my job - is that it will be my best work if I pull it off, and I'm committed to pulling it off. It's too important not to.
But I have to trust that when I give it all, more will arise later, as Annie Dillard says. (h/t to the lovely azhure for posting that quote!) I have to have faith that the process I undergo with Cicatrix will deepen and strengthen everything else I write after.
It helps to think of it as katabasis. Because I know I can do that. Every time the way down and back is different, the path unmarked, the price altered, but that, I have faith in - that I can go down and through and back up into the sun.
And when I ask myself "What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?", I damn well know the answer.