Write Now Newsletter – February 2004

by | Feb 3, 2004 | Write Now Columbus Essay Archives

“Never hope more than you work.”
– Beryl Markham quoting her father in West with the Night

Hi Writers:

On Sunday I saw the movie, “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” I’d read the book and heard Tracy Chevalier, the author, read. I sat in the dark theater intrigued, watching Vermeer (Colin Firth) paint the portrait of the Girl (Scarlett Johansson). The movie makers had carved the book, slice by slice, down to its essential spine. As I left the theater, I felt the same sense of wonder I had felt while reading the book. I also felt sick.

It wasn’t the popcorn or even the extra-strong coffee. I felt sick with the thought that I would never be able to write anything that simple, that splendid. “You’ll never be that good,” the voice said. And I want to be good. It is my deepest dream.

Luckily, it was Sunday night. On Sunday nights, come wind, rain, hail or snow, I go to a coffeehouse and write. As I pulled out my notebook, I remembered the advice from Beryl Markham’s father. She was leaving the family farm in Njoro to train racehorses in Molo. “Don’t expect too much,” he said. “After that, work and hope. But never hope more than you work.” And so I worked. I sat at my little table in the back and pushed my purple pen across the blue lines of a spiral notebook. And the voice stopped.

I’ve had my share of writing successes and most days the doubts don’t linger. But even if I won the Pulitzer prize, it would not be enough. My writing is only enough in the moment of creation. It is only enough when I am sitting at the page forming words with my little pen. And so I will keep writing. I hope you will too.

Nita(wishin’ an hopin’ and thinkin’ an prayin’. . .)Sweeney
(c) 2004 by Nita Sweeney

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