“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.”
“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs.”
Waking angels: A dear mentor and friend of mine says that they are all around and everywhere, just waiting for us to call upon them and summon their help in our endeavors with intention and for beneficial ends. To me, this is just one more reason why as writers and creative souls, we need to aim high.
In a wonderful New York Times story called “How to Write Great,” the author Roger Rosenblatt explores the difference between “great” writing and “brilliant,” “clever,” or “exquisite” writing. As he puts it, “Let us speak of Quixote writing, Lear and Deronda writing. Honor, heroism, decency, justice, and ‘Ah, love, let us be true to one another’ writing. Gaah! The very words are marzipan to the tongue. And yet, at the end of the day — our own or days in general — what else do we seek from our books?”
According to Roger, great writing takes on “great moral issues,” the timeless truths we all hunger to understand and possess. And it is these “verities that make us know ourselves.” He cites Charles Dickens, one of my favorite authors, as an example. While Dickens may be melodramatic, he moves us because his characters embody virtues and vices in ways that compel us as readers to want the “just rewarded and the unjust punished.” He makes us long for a world that works.
Dickens, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Tolstoy, Philip Roth, E.L. Doctorow — when we read authors like these, we know they are going to write about circumstances and moral dilemmas where the stakes are high. Says Roger: “The writers we admire most are propelled by a mixture of innocence and chutzpah.” Let’s see if we can being this same mix to our own work And summon our waking angels to aid us. Write on!