Make Your Art

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you.

Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself, that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

— Neil Gaiman, Art Matters, “Make Good Art”

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 25, 2019

Make Art

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique.

You have the ability to make art.

— Neil Gaiman, ArtĀ Matters, “Make Good Art”

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 22, 2004

Intercessory Prayer

When you want to give the audience an emotion — whether in acting or in singing or in writing — you have to be on the other side of the emotion. In talking with one of you, I likened it to intercessory prayer. When you are praying for someone, beware. Do not manipulate. Do not try to control. Do not try to order the universe. You simply move through into that person and then offer whoever it is to God. But, again, you go through and out and on other side of emotion. If you are manipulative with your character — one you’re playing, one you’re writing about, or one you’re praying about — then it doesn’t work.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 222

[Photo: Rhein River, Germany, from Burg Rheinstein, July 1997]

Listen

Inspiration comes far more often during work as things get rolling than before you sit at the typewriter. This is because the largest part of the job of the artist is to listen. To listen to the work and to go where it tells you to go. And this involves faith. Letting go of your own control and having faith in something you do not control.

To pray is also to listen. To move through my own chattering to God, to get beyond those words to that place where I can be silent and then listen to what God may have to say.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Wheaton College Writing and Literature Conferences, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 132.

Story First

So it was a theological as well as a literary enterprise for me, but as a storyteller I had to make the story come first. I sat down and typed out “It was a dark and stormy night.” The theology is down deep. It’s not there unless you look for it. And that’s where I think it should be in stories. It should not hang below your skirt like a slip.

— Madeleine L’Engle, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

In the Company of Artists

When I look back on [my] decade of total failure – it’s been a mixture, both before, and since – there was, even on the days of rejection slips, a tiny, stubborn refusal to be completely put down. And I think, too, and possibly most important, that there is a faith simply in the validity of art; when we talk about ourselves as being part of the company of such people as Mozart or van Gogh or Dostoyevsky, it has nothing to do with comparisons, or pitting talent against talent; it has everything to do with a way of looking at the universe. My husband said, “But people might think you’re putting yourself alongside Dostoyevsky.” The idea is so impossible that I can only laugh in incredulity. Dostoyevsky is a giant; I look up to him; I sit at his feet; perhaps I will be able to learn something from him. But we do face the same direction, no matter how giant his stride, how small mine.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Circle of Quiet, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, p. 32