Friday, June 07, 2013

Advice to Writers


Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor of the study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way. Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take to the open fields to scour the undersides of rocks or swab in the dark forest upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn the immaculate altar of your desk, a clear surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet, and cover pages with tiny sentences like long rows of devoted ants that followed you in from the woods.


-Billy Collins
(I found this via Kelly Corrigan, a new favorite, whose book Lift, I just finished)