Pinned-up wisdom: Finding encouragement and inspiration on my bulletin board
Published: August 11, 2005
I've seen what's up on a lot of refrigerator doors, my own and others, with their magnet-held pictures, notes, kid's drawings or jokes. But a writer's bulletin board is not as open to such casual survey by friends or even fellow writers. What would theirs hold?|
What set me to wondering was an item in an Authors Guild Bulletin. It mentioned an author's favorite Charles Schulz comic strip pertinent to writers. I realized I've had one on my bulletin board for years: Snoopy, sitting atop his doghouse, types: "Dear Editor: Why do you keep sending my stories back? You're supposed to print them and make me rich and famous. What is it with you?"
I admit I often ignore my board except for special phone numbers: the library, the bank, the post office , newspapers. And, of course, my publisher and editor's name and number.
But there are other items on my board. Dominating the middle of it is a message in large print, cut from a newspaper ad: You can do it!
There are other encouraging notes. The line "Chaos precedes creativity," from a Sunday sermon, allows me to accept my desktop--or at times my mental--"chaos" and get on with my "creativity."
"Keep the channel open," which is from a longer quotation from Martha Graham (via Ursula Nordstrom, the famous Harper editor) implies that my vision, my life force, my vitality can only be transmitted through me.
And a line from an Ivan Southall talk indicates, "Your quality as a writer depends upon your talent for making choices," which applies not only to my writing.
And of course, because I work in a basement office, I had to have Van Wyk Brooks' epigram wherein he says, "As against having beautiful workshops, studies, etc., one writes best in a cellar on a rainy day."
Yes, I have pictures: two postcard repr oductions of Mary Cassatt paintings, because I have written a biography of her. And a postcard reproduction of my husband's watercolor cover illustration for my middle-grade historical novel, Sean's War.
I've posted short poems by diverse writers: Langston Hughes' poignant "Poem," which begins, "I loved my friend."
"Exhortation to the Dawn" by third-century Indian poet Kalidasa, which reminds me to "Look to this day."
The poem that advises me to sell one of my last two loaves of bread "to buy hyacinths for my soul" by Muslim poet Gullistan, first shared with me by my high school English teacher.
An eight-line poem suggesting that I mingle "with Truth among the flowers" by Liu Chang-Ch'ing, another way of remembering to stop and smell the flowers.
I've saved a poetic quote from Ann Morrow Lindberg's Gift of the Sea to remind me that I am but a partner in the dance of life as well as love.
And of course there's Goethe's poem that asks me, "Are you in earnest?" and urges me to "Only begin!"
Some odd items get pinned up by me. A soft fuzzy lavender ball, a "warm fuzzy" reminder of my Transactional Analysis discussion group. A mouse pin to recall one of my first published children's stories. A large plastic button with a cartoon-like bee, with the saying "Reading Gives Me a Buzz"--because it does. And another plastic button bearing the words, on a background of flowers: "Smoking Stinks." A gentle reminder to whoever visits me in my studio.
Do I ever change my bulletin board? On rare occasions--an address correction, another phone number, or new additions, such as the story of the author who received--in the same mail, from the same publisher--an award for a best first novel and a rejection for that same novel. A clerical error, no doubt, but don't we all hope that our next "return" could be a mistake?
With all of these "pin-ups," there's still room on my 20-by-20-inch cork board for a few more. But it's reassuring to know where I can look for my old standbys when I need inspiration or motivation, a laugh, a reminder or an incentive.
What's on your bulletin board?