Stops and Starts

“As you read this introduction, someone, somewhere, is falling in love; a child is calling out to someone in the darkness as he awakes from a bad dream; someone is sitting alone in a car missing someone as rain pelts the windshield; someone is leaning on a desk, anticipating happiness he hopes love will one day bring him; and perhaps someone very old is looking out a window, wishing he had said yes instead of walking away on that snowy afternoon in 1951. No matter what we do, love saturates our lives in every possible way. Even when we try to escape, it finds us — if merely to tease us with what we could have had.” -Simon Van Boody

2

“There are so many things to be tortured about, sweet pea. So many torturous things in this life. Don’t let a man who doesn’t love you be one of them.” -Sugar

“I think we keep these moments of rejection and acceptance very close. I think we carry them always, like cracked shells from which a part of us once hatched.” -Simon Van Booy

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” -Kurt Vonnegut

“When small drops began to fall and darken the world in penny-shaped circles, no one around him scurried for cover. For lonely people, rain is a chance to be touched.” -Simon Van Booy

5

“I believed that if I had the whole story, if I had the opportunity to really know the person I was sitting with, there would be nobody I could not love.” -Laurie A. Helgoe

“I’d rather look back at my life and know that I was brave instead of calculated.” -Joy Williams

“Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers — but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.” -George Saunders

1

“When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.” -Kelly Cutrone (If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You)

“Cultivate an understanding of a bunch of the other things that the best, sanest people on the planet know: that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we’re all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountaintop.” -Sugar

6

“Growth is not a steady, forward, upward progression. It is indeed a switchback trail: three steps forward, two back, one around the bushes, and a few simply standing, before another forward leap.” -Dorothy Corkville Brigg

“Good news: No one knows what they’re doing. Better news: You get to make mistakes. Best news: You get to keep trying again until you find the right fit. So…focus on one thing and one day at a time. Keep your head down. Work hard. Fail quickly. Move on.” -Elise Blaha Cripe

3

“Our hearts are more elastic than we think, and the work of forgiveness and transformation and growth can do things we can’t even imagine from where we’re standing now.” -Shauna Neiquist

“I adore the struggle you carry in yourself. I adore your terrifying sincerity.” -Anaïs Nin

“A lover doesn’t discourage your growth.  A lover says, ‘I see who you are today, I cannot wait to see who you become tomorrow.’” -Donte Collins

7

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” -Barbara Kingsolver

“Take a body, maybe your own, and dump it gently. All your dead, unfinished selves and dump them gently. Take only what you need.” -Richard Siken

“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” -Madeleine L’Engle

4

“Why do we love our writing teachers so much? Why, years later, do we think of them with such gratitude? I think it’s because they come along when we need them most, when we are young and vulnerable and are tentatively approaching this craft that our culture doesn’t have much respect for, but which we are beginning to love. They have so much power. They could mock us, disregard us, use us to prop themselves up. But our teachers, if they are good, instead do something almost holy, which we never forget: they take us seriously. They accept us as new members of the guild. They tolerate the under-wonderful stories we write, the dopey things we say, our shaky-legged aesthetic theories, our posturing, because they have been there themselves. We say: I think I might be a writer. They say: Good for you. Proceed.” -George Saunders

{Columbia River Gorge drive via @nicholaspeterwilson, rainy road via @alice_gao, downtown Portland via @justin.watts, Mt. Hood via @robbyzabala, Cannon Beach via @_chriscramer_, two tents via @alexstrohl, Larch Mountain trees via @zackkcore — all on Instagram.}

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