Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Spirit of Writers Past

By Nichole Giles

Unbeknownst to my readers, I was out of town last week. I know, I probably should have sought permission from my fans, or at least forewarned them, but...well, you know how it goes with vacations. Anyway, now that you know I was gone, I’ll bet you are wondering where I went, aren’t you?

I spent all of last week with my husband and kids in New York City. (Don’t get too excited, I wasn’t there meeting with agents and publishers, although I’d have loved that.) While there, I had the opportunity to visit places where so many of the worlds greatest writers have walked, lived, and created the works that would later make them famous.

It is apparent in the ambiance of the city that it has been and will continue forever to be a haven for artists of every kind. From the buildings bearing the names Scholastic and McGraw Hill, or even the enormous New York Library, to the streets in Greenwich Village and SoHo where the spirits of writers past can be audibly heard, visually imagined, and inspiration sings through the air.

In Battery Park, we stopped for a half hour while a stout, Oriental man did a charcoal sketch of our four children—and it turned out amazing. The streets outside the row known as Museum Mile (where famous museums such as the Met are located) were littered with artists of all kinds selling their wares. Besides handbags, jewelry, and paintings, books were also being sold. Actors lined up outside of production offices, and ticket agents fought hordes of theater-goers outside of little ticket windows while musicians played their guitars on the streets, hoping to sell a few of their self-published cds.

By now you’re thinking, “Cool, but why are you telling us this?” Well, here’s the thing. As I walked those streets, I had the strangest sense of belonging, a sort of knowledge that these great artists and I share a common thread. We are all struggling to get our art into the world for others to see. We share the hope that someday something we write (or say, or sing, or paint) will change the world in some small way, just as the artists of the past have done.

And those artists who have passed on to the next life have left a legacy for the rest of us to follow. We don’t have to live as starving artists in a studio apartment in the Village, or in Brooklyn, or SoHo, or Timbuktu for that matter. The spirit of inspiration can speak to all of us in its own way; all we have to do is listen.

As I walked the quiet streets in Greenwich village, and sat on the peaceful back porch of a family run pizza joint eating a piece of hot, steaming, New York-style pie, I looked up at the patch of blue showing through the leaves of the trees between the buildings, and felt a heavenly encouragement that I too, have the ability to do what the writers of the past once did.

So do all of you.

PS The above photo is the Metropolitan Muesum of Modern Art.


Anonymous said...

Oh to walk where the masters walked. of course I get a bigger thrill out of walking down the streets of Nauvoo. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. maybe next time you'll take us along????
Keith Fisher

Nichole Giles said...

Sure, Keith. The more the merrier.

I feel a thrill in Nauvoo, too. To me, the spirit is strong there. It's different than the spirits of NY writers. Much more holy.

Although I have to admit, ground zero also feels like a holy place. And heart breaking.