Random Thoughts

Seeking advice from others

... look within

by Ed Boyd

I have had a little book for several years that I revisit often. Rainer Maria Rilke’s, “Letters to a Young Poet” is filled with ideas about life, of human experience. In chapter one, Rilke responds to a poet asking for advice about his writing. I have extracted and strung together a few of Rilke’s ideas about giving advice to writers.

“Nothing touches a work of art as words of criticism: they always result in a more or less fortunate misunderstandings…No one else can advise or help you…no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write…write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty…describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember…and if this turning within, out of this immersion in your world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not…a work of art is good if it has risen of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.”

Ultimately, the writer must judge for herself/himself.

December 5, 2008

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