I was reminded today of this:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
It was probably two or three years ago when I came across this bit of pith, and it really hit home. Key to me is the fact that it scales: whatever you consider being bold, that’s your bar. You don’t have to compete with people who have deep pockets, or who were born into a family hard-wired with connections. You just have to try.
I also think it’s true. Or at least it’s been true for me when I’ve been bold in the past. I’ve had my ass kicked, I’ve swung and missed more than once, but in general I’ve come out ahead for being bold. I know that magic.
In a (mostly) amazing coincidence, I visited Goethe’s resting place in Weimar, Germany last year while traveling on business. He didn’t have anything to add.
Update: Maybe because the quote doesn’t actually come from Goethe. As near as I can tell after trying to nail this down, it seems to have originated with this guy.
— Mark Barrett
April L. Hamilton says
Hey, I visited Goethe’s *birth*place when I was in Frankfurt, Germany a few years back, also on business! And that quote is one of my favorites, also.
For such a big planet, it’s an increasingly small world. 🙂
One of the most interesting aspects of visiting Weimar — a city steeped in multiple layers of German and world history — was the incredible amount of graffiti spray-painted on everything just outside what would be considered the city center, or the main tourist area of the city. It was like a peaceful version of what I used to see in L.A..
When I asked a local store owner about it, he said it was bored kids who didn’t have much to do in the town. There are (I think) two famous colleges there, and of course the tourist trade, and the omnipresence of history, but for teenagers in Weimar all of that is something they can’t participate in — and are pressured by.
In fact, on the morning I arrived, a huge piece of hastily-painted graffiti was being hosed off the rooftop of one of the colleges, by the local fire department. I stood and watched it for about twenty minutes, and felt like I was watching modern-day Weimar struggle with its own celebrity.
Debbie Stier says
I think I actually remember reading this post the first time! LOVE IT! And it’s so true. I want to blow it up and frame it and hang it in my kitchen. (Lady Gaga quote too 😉
BTW, your site looks great.
I have to thank you for finding the preface to the part of the quote I posted. It’s exactly the kind of elucidation of a quote that I like: an explanation of the mechanisms at work, rather than a rallying cry or motivational/spiritual exhortation.
It also speaks directly to what happens when you commit to writing a story. No matter how much you know in advance, no matter how complete your outline or vision, the riches and details that will define the work are necessarily found along the way. (Which is why discovery in writing a first draft can be as exhilarating for the writer as the finished work will be for the reader.)