I began this day with the news that Harry Crews had died, which led me to this:
Dwight Garner posted an appreciation, and Maud Newton, former student and longtime admirer, is working on something longer [update: she finished it], but you can visit her archives for a number of Crews-related posts. Crews is still for the most part on my lengthy yet-to-read list, but all day I had the first lines of the video above running through my head:
The writer's job is to get naked, to hide nothing, to look away from nothing, to look at it, to not blink, to not be embarrassed by it or ashamed by it. Just strip it down, and let's get down to where the blood is, the bone is, instead of hiding it with clothes and all kinds of other stuff. Luxury.
About two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I threw away half a novel. Threw it away. Because I'd made a wrong turn, and man, you make a wrong turn and you just keep on that wrong turn and pretty soon you've got that much stuff that won't work. The amateur, or the coward, or the non-writer, will try to keep it and make it work 'cause he doesn't want to have to throw it away and do all of that over again, another way. The real artist, with no tear in his eye and no sadness in his heart, puts the pages in the fire, and does it again.
And then I ended the day at the new documentary, Gerhard Richter Painting, watching Richter demonstrate by example and rarely by words, saying little more than that he has to keep working at a painting until it looks done to him--until it looks good for days and not just hours--or until he ruins it, and telling a story of a fellow student in art school who whistled while he painted, while Richter thought, "You have to be a better critic than that. You're talking yourself into being happy with what you are doing." (I can't find a way to embed the trailer, but you can watch it via the link above. The image below is from the most moving shot in the film, as the old painter works to push his giant squeegee across his painting, not even seeing what it reveals until he has made his way across to the other side.)