Recklessly Generous

Giving childI’m reading If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland. It has been recommended to me by several people as the absolute best book written on the act of writing. Not necessarily on the structure of writing, certainly not on issues of grammar, but on the base, creative act. She wrote it in the late 1930s, and so far it is absolutely living up to its reputation. I haven’t finished it, but I already recommend it to anyone who has ever thought about writing, and doubly so to those who still haven’t written yet.

There is a passage on page 25 that I have to relate because when I read it, it caused me to stop and to put the book down on my lap and to smile. It’s actually a footnote to page 25, where she’s talking about the distinction between working to express yourself and the world you see around you, and grinding to make money or notoriety in business. It reads:

They will be uncreative in business as well as in everything else. For of course the creative power is expressed in business as well as in other things. I know a business man whose every sentence has more life, creative vision and generosity in it than those of many artists.

But the trouble with business expressing the creative power freely and prodigally as Art does, you cannot be recklessly generous in business, giving higher and higher wages and all your products freely and lovingly to the public.

There are lots of times in history that I would love to visit. I often think (more often than I should, really) about going back and chatting with Newton, or Darwin, and talking with them about which things panned out and which ones didn’t and where we’ve gotten to since. But there is absolutely no time in which I would rather be living than this moment.

I work for a company that gives its products freely and lovingly to the public, and we’re not the only ones doing so. I wish Brenda were around to see it.

2 comments

  1. Sorry for commenting here, I couldn’t respond on the mozilla page. Thanks for your comment on FishEyeTabs, I realized that pref handling was broken, and in the latest version it’s fixed but in quite an ugly way: every time firefox closes, I restore the settings, and every time it starts, I change them again. As I read the link you gave, I will redo it with overlays. Thanks for your help.