Friday, August 27, 2010

What's on your bulletin board?

ROSEMARY: The bulletin board in my office is barnacled with pictures, clippings, post-its with passwords,Greek worry beads, a Bettie Page air freshener, pins..including an ancient one that reads I Believe Anita Hill, a picture of Marlon Brando from The Godfather, a french postcard for On the Waterfront, advice from Horace on how to be happy, advice from Voltaire on how to live, the Gettysburg Address, and any number of quotes I have printed out for inspiration.

Here are two of my favorites -

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do" Eleanor Roosevelt

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." Havelock Ellis

I can't claim to agree with some of the speakers' other statements and philosophies, but these two quotes strike a chord with me. There's a matter-of-fact fearlessness in them which appeals to me.

So first off...what's on your bulletin board, and are there any quotes that give you a little extra inspiration when you need it? (Two pix are my bulletin boards, I actually have four. And the third pic is Roberta's but blogger keeps jumbling them up. You should be able to guess!)

ROBERTA: Those quotes are terrific Ro! I have tons of pictures over my desk, along with some postcards, and a few quotes. One from a former student is so faded I can't read it anymore. I believe it's in Hebrew and it means "May you go from strength to strength." Another is from Kinky Friedman: "They say when you die and go to heaven that all the cats and dogs you've ever had in your life will come running to meet you." Boy, I sure hope that one's true!

HALLIE: I agree, great quotes, Ro. I keep a ladder of fortunes from Chinese fortune cookies. My favorite: "You will succeed in a far out profession." I got that right before my first book sold. Prophetic.

As far as quotes, my husband once did a caligraphy of one of my favorite quote from a children's book, Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg:
"An ambition is a little creeper that creeps and creeps in your heart night and day, singing a little song, 'Come and find me, come and find me.'"

HANK: Hallie, that sounds like a great title...hmmm. Oh, yes, on my bulletin board are several quotes. My favorite right now: "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"
I also have the whole poem "Ithaca," by CV Cavafy. Here's how it starts:

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.

The rest is just as great. I almost cry every time I read it.

JAN: Hank, that's a terrific poem. I have a poem on my bulletin board, too. My son Spike wrote it after a friend in high school died tragically. It's sad, but really, its a poignant insight of a kid trying to deal with the incomprehensible that's neither hokey nor in denial. It's a mother thing, but I read it every morning before I write. !!

Also just last week, Pat Marinelli, one of the participants in the Writers Challenge wrote a post:
I am in control of the Internet. It does not control me.
I copied it in red on a sticky note and posted it on the bulletin board behind my computer.

RHYS: I love the poem too, in fact I carry a pocket sized Walt Whitman around with me for that same reason. Oh, and I don't have a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt on my desk--I have the person. I was once given an Eleanor Roosevelt doll--the ugliest thing you've ever seen but I've grown very fond of her and she sits on my computer--constantly imparting wisdom to me.
I only have one quote on my bulletin board. It's No Pressure, no diamonds by Mary Case. Apart from that it's mainly photos: a huge glossy of Robert Redford when young with his shirt open (I've had it for a long time!), my parents, sadly no longer with us, me with Lyn Hamilton, also sadly no longer here, me with Parnell Hall--he dressed as the Puzzle Lady and me as Lady Georgie,and me holding the Agatha teapot. At the moment only one piece of paper as I've moved all the to do stuff to the white board below. The piece of paper is the IMBA bestseller list that shows me at number 1, ahead of James Lee Burke, Daniel Silva, Ridley Pearson, Janet Evanovich, Thomas Perry etc.

As you can see it's a board designed to remind me that all things are possible.

ROSEMARY: So What's in your office that gives you inspiration?...Oh, there's one other quote I love and have on the board. No idea who said it -
Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.
Try to do all those things.


  1. Love the "barnacled." Mostly I have pictures (including a pair of goats and some lovely Victorian ladies who are complete strangers), but also endless "must do" lists and other reminders. A tombstone with a perfect skeleton on it. A dead sting ray. And a picture of Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.

    One of my favorite poems is Grace Paley's "The Poet's Occasional Alternatives" ( which is too long for my bulletin board, so I keep it on my fridge. It's very appropriate for writers.

  2. Believe it or not, I don't have a bulletin board in my office. But I do have Advice to Writers that my son Allan wrote in pencil in 1996 (at age 9) in his best cursive:

    "There are three tips I think all young writers should use. 1.Write. The more you do something, the better you get. 2. Keep a diary. If you write in a diary on a daily basis, your writing skills will improve. 3. Write about something you know and have strong feelings about. You can be more convincing if you write this way. These are three of the many ways to improve your writing."

    Nice, isn't it? That's my inspiration.


  3. Thanks for sharing your wonderful poems and inspirations! I have photos of my husband, children and dogs (past and present--the dogs, not my hubby/kids). I have artwork by my children which refreshes me with its color and exuberance. I have a couple of Bible verses and a photo of a sailboat in an empty ocean with the phrase "RISK: You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

  4. Sheila - going right now to check out that poem. I'm a big Grace Paley fan. Voice. Characterization. She nailed it.

    Edith, I think he's a WRITER...already at age 9. How'd he get so wise??

    Laura, that quote reminded me of something I heard Bob Dugoni say in a wonderful speech at lunch at Willamette Writers: You can't hit a home run if you never swing the bat.

    SWINGING THE BAT... and occasionally whiffing.

  5. Hallie, he's an amazing writer (now 24). He blogs regularly at, with entertaining comments on life and reading, so he's taking his own advice. He's not making a living at writing yet, but I hope he figures out some way to. Thanks!

  6. My white board/bulletin board combo is a jumble of notes, post-its, a comic about writing buried under there somewhere and other detritus I thought important at one time or another. But...right above my monitor so I see it every time I look up is this quote from Napoleon Hill:

    Goals are dreams with a deadline.

    While I haven't officially "declared" for the writer's challenge, I am working on it in my own quiet way.

  7. Been such a mole, writing my heart out. But thought I'd best surgace for air and catch up here. Great inspiration all, thank you!!
    Hank, thanks for "Ithaca." It was my husband's favorite poem (he is also a poet), so it was read at our wedding by Susan Paradise, the late off Broadway actress. And nearly 38 years later, our journey continues.

  8. Oh, how wonderful, annoxford! I agree, it's a perfect perfect wedding poem. (How did you make it through wihtout crying?)