"Inspiration exists – but it has to find you working." – Picasso
That's one of my favorite quotations, and it gives me encouragement as I finish the first draft of my new novel. While I'm striving to lay out precisely my carefully plotted story and "get everything in," I've already gathered a separate section in my Notes of "ADD to Second Draft." I see so many things that I'm going to have to "re-weave" into the book, second time around: things I now have to set up earlier because I've discovered a great "pay-off."
But it's also sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph: construction work. And all along the way, I'm hoping for what Paul Valery called "lucky finds." As I'm working my way through the plot structure I've so carefully constructed, I'm hoping for individual good thoughts and sentences. After all, I hope I'm building a story that can carry good, large thoughts. In my dreams, something like –
"There is so much suffering in the world. I think of it as a sort of muffled cry on the other side of silence – if our senses were sharp enough to apprehend it all I think the pain of it would destroy us." -- George Eliot, Middlemarch
"Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing." -- Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
"Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat." – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
"Terror made me cruel." – Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
"Wherever she was, there was Eden." – Mark Twain, "The Diary of Adam and Eve"
Sometimes it's best not to read other writers; it makes you depressed.
But most times it's an inspiration, to try to have my say, bear witness to my truths.
MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot (Part 1) – one of the best novels I've ever read
THE GOOD SOLDIER (Part 1 of 4) – with one of the greatest first sentences in English literature
INVISIBLE MAN (Part 1 of 2) – with another great first sentence – (last one, too)
WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Part 1 of 2) – the "wild workshop"
THE DIARY OF ADAM AND EVE by Mark Twain – paging Barbara Harris