Tag Archives: Oscar Wilde

O- Optimism…A-Z Challenge

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

– Oscar Wilde

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of Motivational Quotes for writers. We’re moving quickly through the alphabet and now we’re already up to O. The word for today is Optimism, which I believe is an important ingredient for getting that book project finished. After all, if you don’t believe you’re good enough and have what it takes to get through to the end, why get started at all? You’d be much better off staying in your day job.

Here’s a few more quotes I came across:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an

optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

– Winston Churchill

 

“Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to

convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom

otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but

don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad

attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself

with optimistic people.”

– Zig Ziglar

However, how do we retain our optimism in the face of repeated knock backs and defeats?

  1. Believe in yourself.
  2. Break the task down into smaller, more achievable chunks.
  3. Take some classes and skill up.
  4. Ask someone we trust for advice.
  5. Keep thinking laterally and looking for the opportunity. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
  6. Keep writing. Set yourself a daily word limit to reach or a length of time to write. I don’t do this but I’ve read this recommendation a lot.
  7. Read some books, watch some people. Open your eyes and ears and constantly be on the look out for new ideas, observations, details which could help a story along down the track.
  8. Keep a small notebook for ideas with you.

I hope this encourages you all to feel more optimistic and positive about your writing and now we all just need to get out there and do it!

Do you have anything else to add? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

O- Oscar Wilde: A Reply #AtoZchallenge.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for your letter.

As you might expect, I’m no longer the peacock, and have become a changed man. While I was renowned for my intellect and wit, I have been humbled. Even talking to the worms has been an education. It turns out that once we’re underground, all of us are simply “food”no matter who we thought we were.

Naturally, I receive a lot of visitors but no one else has ever brought me Tim Tams before. I’m still licking the chocolate off my fingers and wondering how to salvage a chunk of precious biscuit which accidentally fell in. I’m not quite sure how to retrieve it. Even back in the day, “the world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.”

Perhaps, I shouldn’t ask but do they still remember me at Cafe de la Paix? Bosie crucified me there on my last visit and the pain was so intense but Robbie stood by me.

Oscar Wilde

Speaking of pain, I’ve been trying to think up some advice. In my younger days, I wrote a series of aphorisms:  “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young”. It seemed very clever at the time but wasn’t sound advice. Instead I’d like to ask you to read De Profundis. It was a letter I wrote to Bosie while I was in gaol and addresses the nature of suffering and our need to somehow rise above it all and still find joy. I’m not going to bore you with my endless whingeing about losing the lot.

However, I jotted down a few excerpts for you now:

“Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain.”

“Nature….she will hang the night stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send word the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every human being should be the realisation of some ideal, either in the mind of God or in the mind of man.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“I am completely penniless, and absolutely homeless. Yet there are worse things in the world than that.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

 

“All the spring may be hidden in the single bud, and the low ground nest of the lark may hold the joy that is to herald the feet of many rose-red dawns.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair. Just as they borrow their ideas from a sort of circulating library of thought—-the Zeitgeist of an age that has no soul—-and send them back soiled at the end of each week, so they always try to get their emotions on credit, and refuse to pay the bill when it comes in. You should pass out of that conception of life. As soon as you have to pay for an emotion you will know its quality, and be the better for such knowledge. And remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

 

“When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
― Oscar Wilde

Oscar-Wilde-Grave-Top-Tenz

You know, Rowena, you’re the very first person who has ever brought me coffee. I was deeply touched. You were thinking of me and wanting to know my story, even if you couldn’t stay here very long. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve had to endure. They’ve come here in their thousands, puckering up and bragging how they’ve kissed Oscar Wilde. While they might have smeared me with lipstick, they haven’t touched me at all.

You have.

Thank you for your honesty, acknowledging you don’t know me and not pretending that you do.

You wouldn’t believe how many people I have running round inside my head thinking it’s their “right” to explore each and every nook and cranny of my brain. Could you just imagine what it’s like with all those people running around yelling and shouting, flashing their torches up the back of my nose and even taking samples all in the name of “science”. What makes them think they know me better than I knew myself? Why can’t they all get lost and leave me in peace? After all, I never stuck my head in their privates, did I?!!!

As soon as you mentioned seeing my golden angel, I knew you’d come here for a reason.

You see, I don’t believe in coincidence either. You held the match which finally lit the spark. I’m going to charge them all an entry fee. If they want to explore my head and make all sorts of accusations, they’ll have to pay!

So here’s to new beginnings! Now, I’ll finally be getting that new wallpaper!

Thank you!

Yours,

Oscar Wilde

 

O- Oscar Wilde: Letters to Dead Poets #atozchallenge..

Epitaph: Oscar Wilde

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

(from Wilde’s poem,  The Battle of Reading Goal)

 

Dear Mr Wilde,

As much as I appreciated: The Picture of Dorian Grey, you’re a difficult man to fathom. Indeed, it seems you even had trouble finding yourself:

“The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

So, I won’t presume to know you. Or, what made you tick. After all, we’ve never met and I can’t linger now. I’m on a very tight schedule writing Letters to Dead Poets…an Express Train from A-Z with very limited stops. So, I can’t read all there is to know, juggle all the facts and delve into the semantics to become your expert. That is someone else’s journey. Instead, I am a stranger simply passing through.

Yet, I have brought you a cafe au lait.

Oscar Wilde 500px-Palais_Garnier_Statue

On my way, I popped into the  Café de la Paix. When I mentioned your name, like a miracle your golden angel appeared through the mist, floating in the middle of the square. Such an incredible fusion of serendipity and science, yet only a reflection. What does it mean? I don’t believe in coincidence, do you?

My deepest apologies, I couldn’t afford Le Grand Brunch. However, I “secured” a Cafe au Lait. Knowing how you waxed lyrically about the virtues of decadent indulgence, I thought you’d like to try a Tim Tam Explosion. You simply bite off the opposite corners and use the biscuit like a straw. Even if you’ve discovered restraint, you’ll never stop at one! Just make sure it doesn’t fall in. Take it from me, it’s such a waste.

Even by my audacious standards, I know I’m being incredibly presumptuous assuming that we’ve already moved onto coffee, and even Tim Tams. However, I must carpe diem seize the day. A train waits for no one.

Alright! Alright! No need to get so impatient! I thought I was the one asking the questions. Yet, you persist!

“What are you doing here? If you’re in such a damned hurry, why did you bother coming here at all?”

Well, Mr Wilde, I’m sorry. Out of all the dead poets, I thought you’d be most thrilled to arrive in the 21st Century. Was I wrong?

Anyway, back to your question, I don’t know why I am here. Indeed, not being one for peacock plumes, I’m struggling to find much common ground.

Yet, I’m also struggling to find myself. Indeed, this has become a never-ending quest. That search for meaning, which takes each of us down that solitary road. That is, if we have the guts to escape the hubbub, listen to the wind and keep trekking down “the road not taken”.

“Nature….she will hang the night stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send word the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Anyway, back to your question, I’m simply here retracing my steps.

When I last visited your grave in July 1992, I was a 22 year old backpacker staying at the Hotel Henri IV with my friends. After leaving Paris and settling down in Heidelberg, a friend sent me a letter from Paris. She not only encouraged me to pursue my writing, she’d also copied out a letter that she’d found at your grave. It was a lengthy quote from “The Preface” to A Picture of Dorian Grey.

Poetry Reading

Reading my poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop in 1992.

I’d done a poetry reading at the Shakespeare Bookshop a few weeks beforehand and indeed a friend’s mother had sent me a letter addressed to: “Rowena: Poet in Residence in Paris”. Yet, a potent combination of heartbreak and existential angst, had grabbed me by both ankles and dragged me deep down into the murkiest depths of the River Seine.

That’s the side of Paris no one warns you about. That the City of Love has another face  and is equally the City of Heartbreak, disillusionment and despair.

Wilde Antoine Blanchard Place d L'opera et cafe de la Paix en 190

Turning back the clock to 1900, you and your beloved Bosie, Lord Alfred Douglas, were dining at Café de la Paix. After the death of his father, he’d inherited a fortune. Shamed and penniless, you turned to him for help at the height of your suffering. Yet, in a brutal act of betrayal, he refused to help.

In a letter to Robert “Robbie” Ross, you wrote:

I asked Bosie what you suggested – without naming any sum at all – after dinner. He had just won £ 400 at the races, and £ 800 a few days before, so he was in high spirits. When I spoke to him he went into paroxysms of rage, followed by satirical laughter, and said it was the most monstrous suggestion he had ever heard, that he would do nothing of the kind, that he was astounded at my suggesting such a thing, that he did not recognise I had any claim of any kind on him. He was really revolting: I was quite disgusted. I told Frank Harris about it, and he was greatly surprised: but made the wise observation “One should never ask for anything: it is always a mistake.” He said I should have got someone to sound Bosie, and ask him for me. I had also the same idea, but you did not seem to like the prospect of a correspondence with Bosie where money was concerned, and I am not surprised.

It is a most horrible and really heart-breaking affair. When I remember his letters at Dieppe, his assurances of eternal devotion, his entreaties that I should always live with him, his incessant offers of all his life and belongings, his desire to atone in some way for the ruin he and his family brought on me – well, it sickens me, it gives me nausea.

The affair occurred in the Café de la Paix, SO, of course, I made no scene. I said that if he did not recognise my claim there was nothing more to be said.

On the other hand, in what could be called: The Tale of Two MenRobert Ross not only stood by you but looked after you and your family well beyond death without any personal gain. He remained your friend.

TO R. R.

ON REREADING THE “DE PROFUNDIS” OF OSCAR WILDE

He stood alone, despairing and forsaken:
Alone he stood, in desolation bare;
From him avenging powers e’en hope had taken:
He looked,—and thou wast there!

Why hadst thou come? Not profit, no: nor pleasure,
Nor any faint desire of selfish gain,
Had moved thee, giving of thy heart’s pure treasure,
To share a culprit’s pain.

In that drear place, as thou hadst lonely waited
To greet with noble friendship one who came
Handcuffed from prison, pointed at, and hated,
Bowed low in mortal shame,

No thought hadst thou of any special merit,
So simple, natural, seemed that action fine
Which kept alive, in a despairing spirit,
The spark of the divine,

And taught a dying soul that love is deathless,
Even as when its holiest accents fell
Upon a woman’s heart who listened, breathless,
By a Samarian well.

Florence Earle Coates

Yet, while you were involved with these men you were married to Constance Lloyd, the mother of your two sons. She the boys changed their name to Holland and fled to Genoa. Yet, she paid you an allowance and when your mother died, you write: “My wife, always kind and gentle to me, rather than that I should hear the news from indifferent lips, travelled, ill as she was, all the way from Genoa to England to break to me herself the tidings of so irreparable, so irremediable, a loss.”

In De Profundis, you wrote about your  family:

“Her death was terrible to me; but I, once a lord of language, have no words in which to express my anguish and my shame. She and my father had bequeathed me a name they had made noble and honoured, not merely in literature, art, archaeology, and science, but in the public history of my own country, in its evolution as a nation. I had disgraced that name eternally. I had made it a low by-word among low people. I had dragged it through the very mire. I had given it to brutes that they might make it brutal, and to fools that they might turn it into a synonym for folly.”

Relationships are so complex.

So, there you were at the very end dying at the l’hôtel d’Alsace on rue des Beaux Arts you were not alone but you had lost your world.

However, I have to ask: In losing your world, did you somehow find yourself? Find out why you were here? Or, does it matter?

For me, it does. Although I might never find all the answers, the questions guide my path like stars in the sky.

Moreover, as Helen Keller wrote:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’

-Helen Keller.

Thought I just heard you mumble something about wanting more Tim Tams, so I’d better find another packet. Don’t go anywhere. I promise I’ll be back.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I forgot to mention that only two months after your death on 30th November, 1900, your beloved Queen Victoria finally passed away on the 22nd January, 1901.  Obviously, your death was the final tipping point and she finally succumbed to grief.

Oscar_Wilde,_Père_Lachaise_cemetery,_Paris,_France