Silence and Self-Reliance

This poem by Marianne Moore (1935) resonates with me about the kind of perspective required to be a disciplined writer:

Silence (1935) Marianne Moore

My father used to say,

“Superior people never make long visits,

have to be shown Longfellow’s grave

or glass flowers at Harvard.

Self-reliant like a cat–

that takes its prey to privacy,

the mouse’s limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth–

they sometimes enjoy solitude,

and can be robbed of speech

by speech which has delighted them.

The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;

not in silence, but restraint.”

Nor was he insincere in saying, “Make my house your inn.”

Inns are not residencies.

The superior writer does not rely on other people’s praise to fuel her writing practice.  The superior writer does not sit back and wait for something fascinating to write about next.  The superior writer goes after life instead of waiting for life to happen–alert, fascinated, ready to take notes and transform experiences into words.  The superior writer understands how to enjoy and experience life without sucking the life out of everything and everybody else.  The superior writer appreciates it when good things come along, but does not sit around waiting for good things to come along. The superior writer knows how to keep going when good things don’t come along.

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