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I started my day off first listening to Otis Redding sing soulful Christmas songs, because I’m still on that musical dopamine high and ’tis the season. Then I found myself quoting one of my very favorite authors to someone. It got me thinking about how important these favorite authors are to us writers…how crucial it is to keep them in our hearts and heads, not just on our nightstands and shelves. Yes, they teach and inspire us in our craft, but just as importantly, they keep us company when the creative road gets dark. They help us to remember that we are never alone on this journey.

This morning I was quoting Oscar Wilde. I’ll be honest, when someone says they don’t like Oscar Wilde I become immediately suspicious of them. Here was a man who understood life…how short it is, how it’s meant to be lived not squandered, and how it is an artful balance of pleasure and pain. I remember when I first fell in love with Wilde. I was in Junior High and, for no particular reason, decided to read, The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was the book that made me realize that sentences can taste as delicious as the sweetest candy. I savored every line, and when it was over, I read it again. It didn’t hurt that the subject matter was rather dark and torturous…I love laughing, but give me a writer who can make me hurt…that’s the stuff that sticks with you.

My appreciation for Wilde has grown over the years, especially as I learned about his personal life and his journey as a writer. He’s not the only writer whom I keep close, but he’s the one I’m thinking of this morning…because of his tendency towards excess, as it is also the season for that! So today, I won’t just stop at the one quote I shared; I will fill myself to excess with the words and sentiments of that wonderful gentleman. I’ll pull out my copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray (the same copy that I read so many years ago!), and keep his words in my heart and head.

Just to start…

Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.

The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.

Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.

I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single world of what I am saying.

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