Thursday, February 02, 2006

Growth and Change

A butterfly created by Walt Whitman ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I recently mentioned something in one of my posts about my writing going through a change. I believe when I said "change" I left the impression that my writing was going through a period of positive change and growth. I hope this is true, but I might possibly be moving toward a dead-end, too. After I made that post, I found the following quote by James Dickey, who wrote Deliverance and who was also a very fine poet. The quote made me think about "change" versus "growth." I know there have been many times when I've tried something new and it didn't work out. I've chalked it up as a failure. Writers are hard on themselves like that. However, I like the way Dickey thinks. I think I'll adopt this attitude from now on:

When you've published as much as I have, and you get to be my age, there are going to be people who want you to do what they are familiar with. They inevitably say, "He's slipping, he's not as good as he used to be," or "His early work was much better" ... But I don't really care about being as good as, or not as good as, or better than...My primary consideration is to change. I dare not use the word grow; there may or may not be growth, but to change. To still keep that openness, that chance taking-ness as part of the work. Not to be afraid to make a mistake, even if it's a long and costly mistake. --James Dickey in Night Hurdling, his book of essays and interviews, published in 1983.


DesLily said...

you mention trying something new and chalking it up to failure. Is it failure if you learn something from it?? Can you really stop trying new things from fear of more failure? Maybe it's just failure to you but not to others?

V said...

Dickey was an excellent poet.

I so admire your courage; maybe you`re my Dickey.

Erin said...

I like this distinction between change and growth, and also the idea that change is good regardless of what it brings. Thanks for sharing the Dickey quote! As a person who makes several yearly (and sometimes several monthly) resolutions, it's good to think that I'm not wasting my time. :-)

Theresa Williams said...

Deslily, Dickey's quote has shown me that failure can be good. Sometimes you try something different and it ends up sidetracking your project. You lose time and momentum, which can feel like failure. Dickey's quote encourages me to try anyway. Is the butterfly "better" than the caterpillar? Not necessarily (it's prettier to us, but is it more efficient or more significant?). These are the things I think about. I want to stop beating myself up when I hit a brick wall. Thank you for your wise counsel.

DesLily said...

I think i heard somewhere, sometime.. that if you can't tear down the wall.. go around it. It may take longer to get to the otherside, but the trip may be more interesting.
Gosh, I wish i had said that lol.. not sure i quoted it correctly, but you get the idea.

Cynthia said...

I think that all writer's need to remember this quote, indeed anyone who wants to be creative. When I lose that open-ness and willing to take chances, I get the same old thing. The urge to be safe though is so strong.

beths front porch said...

I've come to like the phrase "the wisdom of insecurity." One take on this phrase is that with security is no change...we are dead. I liked thinking about the difference between change and growth. Somehow "growth" seems judgmental and laden with pressure. We're supposed to do it! It's good for us! We'll be a "better" person! But heck, now change is another matter. We can play with that one. ~Beth

Judith HeartSong said...

oh, a hearty amen from here on that Dickey quote.

I don't think you are headed for a dead-end, but we are always in the middle of a grand experiment aren't we? Artists I mean.

ggw07 said...

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
-Pablo Picasso

Change is good! Keep going!

Anonymous said...

Love that quote, Theresa - thank you for sharing it,

Love, Vicky



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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

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