Kind and loving and creative

You can’t control what other people think about your art. Think about the part of yourself that you can control, which is your ability to be kind and loving and creative.

~ Ann Patchett, Yoga Journal

I love this quote. I read it before releasing the Love Essays and I’ve held fast to it ever since. (Though let me just say your response has been so generous, I haven’t felt stressed so much as insanely grateful… and completely, sweetly undone.)

Then, over the weekend, in my mailbox, I got the kind, loving and creative package pictured above, and I knew I was holding in my hand the perfect image for what I already felt was a perfect quote.


  1. Andrea Maurer on June 11, 2012 at 3:41 am

    That, my dear, was EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. I’m printing the quote as we speak and gluing it everywhere… including my forehead so that when I look in the mirror, I’ll see it and remember. Thank you. The essays are absolutely WONDERFUL. They’re thought-provoking and funny and moving and very poignant. You should be proud of the work you’ve done here. Thank you for that too. XO

    • j on June 11, 2012 at 6:48 am

      I felt that way too when I read it. I think it’s so hard to put your work out into the world and let go of your attachment to (hope for) what happens then. For a while I’ve been telling myself each time I publish or launch that it is immediately time to move on to the next best thing. It’s good for me to do that, so I don’t obsess, but I love this even more. A reminder not just to focus on the work, but on the whole big me I want to be.

      And thank you so much Andrea, for the Love Essays comments. They mean so much to me. (Because I’m still not perfectly Zen beyond caring.) xox

  2. Lance on June 11, 2012 at 5:00 am

    I opened a rejection email for my book today. So, your quote/post is helping me stave off writing suicide.

    You have to keep going. I believe in this work.

    Thank j

    • j on June 11, 2012 at 8:31 am

      Here’s a story you’ll appreciate. This weekend, as I opened my email, I said – aloud, there are witnesses – I’m hoping for a really encouraging rejection. Chad said, “Way to aim high, baby.” I was relieved when there was nothing publishing-related in my inbox at all.

      Funny how we writers get. I find it somewhat comforting to think of us all here together, symbolically at least, holding hands. xo

      • Lance on June 11, 2012 at 9:26 am

        The rejection was nicely worded with many editing suggestions. It was like hearing that girl in high school say, “you’re the greatest guy but we’re better as friends, you worthless loser”

        or something

  3. LunaJune on June 11, 2012 at 6:30 am

    yes lets dance… I spent yesterday in a pool of gratitude.. both figuratively and literally… ran away from my huge list of things to do.. good thing I didn’t write them down LOL to spend the entire day dancing in my cuz’s pool, her, I, the music, the cloudless sky, her dog barking at us for our water ballet… yup.. you gotta go where love lives…and you have to take love with you to where you go.

    hope you had a wonderful love filled day

    • j on June 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

      I spent some of yesterday wishing for a pool… we’re practically twins! And yes, you gotta go where the love is. I am learning that so real-time, boots on the ground, these days. How happy would we all be if we learned to love what we have – the people, the community, the audience, the work, the relationships – so much so profoundly, that we simply stopped pining for what we don’t have.

      More on that thought in the email that is coming to an inbox near you! xo

      • Nuttin' on June 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

        I think “pining” has this huge whimpy negative connotation.
        “pining” for objects, “pining” for people, “pining” for love even… is far different than “pining” for understanding, “pining” to be seen as you are and not as you were.
        When you finally notice the joy of your life, it does make you “pine” for misconceptions to be corrected.
        Just my thoughts.

        • j on June 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

          Well, sadly, I’m not above “wimpy.” I agree with you about the word “pining.” I used it intentionally here because I do it sometimes. It’s not that I want a goal I haven’t achieved, or that I’m reaching for what lies just beyond where I’ve reached before, it’s that I’m quite literally pining… in exactly the way you think of the word. (Instead of, as June says, going where the love, appreciation, soul-connection is)

          I do understand your point, and of course it’s natural to want to be seen and understood and appreciated for who we are and what we do. My point is that the energy I spend pining could be so much better spent nurturing and building what I do have.

          • Nuttin' on June 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

            … and, I think, you can nurture your relationships, you can give the love you have, you can breathe in the joy that surrounds you, you can melt in the love that others are oozing just for you — and you can be completely whole and STILL want or “pine” for that thing, that thing that won’t leave your mind. Maybe that “thing” is just to belong. Maybe that thing is to hear “I know”. Maybe that thing is to begin again.

  4. Nuttin' on June 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I have a picture of me and Ann Patchett, I’m not ashamed of my girl crush. I was holding my breath because I was so freaking excited and then I turned all pale and lost several brain cells before I remembered to breathe, which was not untill I was walking back to my car.
    She took the time to talk to me, to ask me about me, to take a picture — yes, the most important thing for us to recognize and know we can control is the kindness and caring we give to the world.

    • j on June 12, 2012 at 10:48 am

      I had a similar experience with Michael Chabon (though he was not quite as generous with the star struck mute standing next to him in my picture). 🙂

  5. Estrella Azul on June 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

    This is what I needed to read today. I’ve been having an awful day from start to end, but this quote warmed my heart up so much!
    Thank you!

    • j on June 12, 2012 at 10:49 am

      You’re very welcome, Estrella. I’m sorry about your day! *hug*

  6. Pam on June 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Good quote!

    (Really you know I’m just over here saying, “–dancing? Yay!”) :p

    • j on June 12, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Here we come… dancing down the street. We get the funniest looks from everyone we meet. Me and you, Pam. Ninja dancers.

  7. Something Good « A Thousand Shades of Gray on June 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    […] This quote, shared by Judy Clement Wall in her latest post on A Human Thing: “You can’t control what other people think about your art. Think about the part of […]

  8. Julia on June 12, 2012 at 9:38 am

    My lovely, beautiful friend. How could you have known that I needed to read this very quote today…it speaks directly to the part of me that is feeling so vulnerable & scared right now.

    I’ve been trying to put it all in perspective for days–this helps so much.

    Can’t wait for your next email. And your Love Essays, well, I couldn’t love them more.

    Big, giant hugs. Thank you for holding my hand through it all–what a comfort you are.

    • j on June 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

      I knew because we are on similar trajectories and I needed to hold tightly to Ann Patchett’s wisdom. I think you’ll like the email (though I have to whittle it down from the tome of notes I’ve gathered). I’ve been thinking so much about the strangely fragile strength of artists… how we can do the work from such a good, soulful place, and then slip immediately into a creativity-killing, unhealthy need for validation and love. Gah!

      More on all of this to come. In the meantime, thank you for your comments on the Love Essays… that part of you that you can control is shining bright and bold. xo

  9. joanne firth on June 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Very nice.

    • j on June 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Thank you.

  10. Chris Edgar on June 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Yeah, the mind does seem to perform the function of looking for what’s missing, doesn’t it — I can get how that has a survival purpose, but it doesn’t always create healthy results. Being able to watch the mind work is very helpful for me.

    • j on June 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I think the evolutionary aspect of looking for what’s missing is much different than what I’m talking about. In fact, I would argue my tendency to seek approval/love/accolades from the people in my life who are least able or willing to give it is the opposite of an evolutionary impulse. It’s extremely limiting and unhealthy.

      And yeah, every now and then, I can get my Eckhart Tolle on and be the observer observing my mind (ego), but most of the time, I’m too tangled up in my life to have such perspective. 😉

  11. Donna B on June 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I LOVE this quote and what a great visual for it. Congratulations on the completion of your book! AWESOME!! I just love coming to your blog…even if it has been awhile being immersed in home projects, but it is always, always such a good feeling of love and peace when I visit you.

    • j on June 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Hi, Donna! Thank you so much. I hope you’ll download the essays. They’re as free as you need them to be, and I think you’ll like them. (You’re mentioned, unnamed, in one.) xo

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