Art is Long

origin_4624988007Perhaps the kindest—and most instructive—comment I’ve ever received from a reviewer came from Mary Rose O’Reilly, author of The Barn at the End of the World: “I can imagine that [Elizabeth] has spent many hours staring out the window until she arrives at a lived-synthesis of what the great religions and irreligions have to tell us about the nature of the sacred.” I don’t know about the synthesis, but I can attest to the hours staring out the window. And hours writing and then deleting what I’ve written. And hours journaling for no eye other than my own. And years revising.

“Art is long,” wrote Henry James. “If we work for ourselves of course we must hurry. If we work for her we must often pause.” Today I’m writing a blog post, that form most conducive to contemporary culture’s need for instant gratification. I’m as easily seduced as the next blogger by the possibility that in an hour or two these reflections might rattle around in your brain. But I also know the profound, evolutionary movement of a longer project, where readership is a vague unknown, a decade isn’t an unreasonable time frame, and the exploratory possibilities seem endless. (more…)