Decades ago, Donald M. Murray, my writing teacher, gave me a
2¾ by 10½ laminated card with his
mantra emblazoned on the front: Nulla dies sine linea-
no day without a line. As if that werent enough direction,
underneath were 3 more commandments: Write first each
day. Complete one writing task every morning. Know tomorrows
task today. The card floats on a shelf above my computer
screen. Don Murray modeled a heroic work ethic, and I struggle
daily to keep up with his advice (Judys Journal, 2007,
Murray was a collector of words. The back of his card holds
a series of quotations about the art of writing. One is at the
beginning of this months blog. Heinemann published his
collection of quotations in 1990: Shoptalk - learning to write
with writers. One word describes the overarching theme: WORK.
Joyful work. Its the miracle-free path to creating all
Right now, I am between series in my studio. I sensed a quieting
of my ink obsession, which ran for six years. I painted other
smaller series during that time. But without a new series to
turn to, an uncomfortable feeling swirls in my brain. However,
I never wait for Inspiration to walk in, because she is not
a dependable visitor.
Last month, I used a tried and true coaxing strategy. Since
I photograph every piece, I am able to spend some time looking
through albums for paintings that seem unresolved. One leapt
out: Mahler Symphony #1 from a ten-painting series
(Judys Journal, 2013 December). I was never satisfied
with it, so I gave up trying and put it in storage.
There were three other Mahler symphony-inspired prints that
I put in the pile, slating them for possible revisions. I knew
that Symphony #1 would not be a revision it needed to
be painted over with a whole new work. After loading Mahler-Symphonie
No.1 with Leonard Bernstein conducting into my CD player,
I listened and worked for the next several days. And worked.