Think of a problem in your life, then read this…
Sheila Heti and Ted Mineo’s adaptation of The I Ching hexagram #9: The Small (from a work in progress).
Dense rainclouds fill the sky, but no rain falls. This is a time of potential being restrained. The best one can do when the rains threaten to fall but do not is to nurture the smallest things—whatever glitters in the soil, whatever expects rain but isn’t being watered. Big things cannot happen now. You have to attend to the smallest sprouts, though you may wish to climb to the tops of trees. One cannot force the rains to come. So spend your energies nurturing the things which still need help.
Display only your best qualities at this time and hide from the world your worst. Refine your environment and settle debts. Familial loyalty is the most prized virtue; display it if you can. Be as gentle, agreeable and pliant as possible. You can only influence people subtly, through gentle penetration, or possibly not at all. You cannot win great victories for your side.
It is an emotionally unsatisfying time; full of stifled expectancy. Heaven’s possibilities can be felt all around you, but heaven cannot be inhabited. The sky remains dark with clouds.
This time has been brought about by the smallest things, which have accumulated and are expressing themselves now. It is because of the small things you have nurtured—in your environment, in yourself, and others—that the clouds are full to bursting. Keep inside your heart your highest goals for yourself and the people around you, while remaining quite silent. Set aside your greatest hopes, gestures, and ambitions for the moment. Such contemplation will only compel you try and force things ahead of their time. To do that would only cause conflict, not real change. Yet keep those visions within sight of your heart.
Make everything smaller. Tend to children, small animals, or to those activities which are like the tending of the smallest sprouts, animals, children. Help other people. Spend your energy on productive refinement, not upheaval.
Rehearsal pic from my play, ALL OUR HAPPY DAYS ARE STUPID. Michael McManus as The Man in the Bear Suit. Naomi Skwarna as Ms. Oddi. He offers her a cigarette in Cannes.
The cover of the German edition of How Should a Person Be? to be published by Rowohlt in Spring 2014.
"I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
Isaac Newton (via believermag)
Margaux’s painting hand.
Toni Morrison, age 18, with high school classmates.
Believer editors Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits, and Believer regular Leanne Shapton, are working on a book together titled Women in Clothes, about women’s relationship to style and why women wear what they wear. Contributors include Miranda July, Zadie Smith, Eileen Myles and others. If you would like to contribute by filling out a survey (the book is being built up from these surveys) please visit this website. You needn’t care about clothes, or be a writer, or consider yourself fashionable, or even think about these things often, to contribute.
"Margaux [Williamson] is much messier and freer; she’s a painter. I think you can be more precise with language than you can with paint and you can go back to an earlier draft, whereas with painting if you make a line you can’t just go back to an earlier draft: you have to deal with the mess you’ve made. We’ve had this conversation a lot. Margaux thinks the writer becomes neurotic because you can go backwards, and because you can go backwards in your art you can go backwards in your life. With my other books I sort of feel that they’re clean and good and so on, and after I published them the response didn’t make me feel any less clean or good; this book is so dirty. The response to it, and allowing myself to do all these interviews or whatever; everything’s become messy and dirty in my life and in my sense of myself. The book’s effect on my life has been kind of radical in a way that feels counter to my nature and everything."
I’m at the Sydney Writer’s Festival this week, and I’m so excited to see the British poet Kate Tempest read this afternoon. Here is her powerful performance of her piece, ‘Icarus’. And here is some beautiful advice she has for young poets, playwrights and performers:
"Finish things. That’s how you develop your voice. Whether it’s a poem or a short film or a painting or a piece of theatre, whatever it is, finish it. Let it go and move onto the next thing. Lots of the stuff I’ve done I think is really, really shit but it’s fine because it’s finished. You’ve got to try to be a better artist today than you were yesterday. And if you never finish anything that’s hard because you’re always trying to be the best artist that’s ever been."
- Sheila Heti
The American paperback comes out in June! I really love this gentle new cover.
And a question for you: Should I be on the Times 100 list? Vote here.