May Sarton–Choosing Art over Success

 

MarySarton

May Sarton. Photograph acquired from (The Paris Review)

 

In the same journal entry in which Sarton wrote about her struggles with depression and visiting her dying friend, I came upon this beautiful short paragraph of her, admonishing aspiring artists to forget “instant success” and asking them to hone their skills instead.

“In the mail a letter from a twelve-year old child, enclosing poems, her mother having pushed her to ask my opinion. This child does really look at things, and I can write something helpful, I think. But it is troubling how many people expect applause, recognition, when they have not even begun to learn an art or a craft. Instant success is the order of the day; “I want it now!” I wonder whether this is not part of our corruption by machines. Machines do things very quickly and outside the natural rhythm of life, and we are indignant if a car doesn’t start at the first try. So the few things that we still do, such as cooking (though there are TV dinners!), knitting, gardening, anything at all that cannot be hurried, have a very particular value.”

Pulled from Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton (Public Library).