Excerpt Soup

“For how long can you behold another person? Before you have to think of yourself again, like dipping the brush back in for more ink…”

Miranda July "Ten True Things"

When I read something that captures my imagination, takes hold of my heart, needs reading twice to comprehend or describes the world in way I've never encountered before, I write it down on whatever piece of paper I have in front of me at the time, and file it away in a folder I informally call "excerpt soup".  There are napkins in there, where coffee spots and smudges decorate prose in ball point pen, there are corners of magazine pages with scribble over make up advertisements, lines of poetry on crumpled paper ripped from exercise books, diary pages with pencil sentences I have to strain to see.  When I'm a little angry at the world and feeling slightly despondent at the prospect of an empty page, or stuck in the middle-mud of a daunting project, I turn to the words of others for an injection of inspiration.  They never fail to amaze me, no matter how many times I may have read them.  Here are a few of my ingredients...

“We wanted to strike lightning in dark waters, to see, if only for a second, the entire world that lives down there, the ten million species in amazing colors and patterns; show us life, now”.
Miranda July: No One Belongs Here More Than You

“So many had written, conversed and convulsed in these Victorian dollhouse rooms.  So many skirts had swished these worn marble stairs.  So many transient souls had espoused, made a mark, and succumbed here.  I sniffed out their spirits as I silently scurried from floor to floor, longing for discourse with a gone procession of smoking caterpillars.”
Patti Smith: Just Kids

“I will not wait to love as best as I can. We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love.”
Dave Eggers: What is the What

“Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.” 
Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things

What would you put in yours?

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