Karen E. Bender Recommends...

“In Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham (Random House, 1991) by Agnes De Mille, Martha Graham spoke about the process of choreography. My mother is a dancer and choreographer and would share this quote with me and my sisters when we were growing up:

‘There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.’

This quote is all anyone needs to keep writing. It’s on my office door; I tell it to my students. When I get stuck, I tell myself: Keep the channel open. That’s my job. That’s it. Martha Graham was a dancer, but this is the best statement about writing and creativity I know.”
—Karen E. Bender, author of The New Order (Counterpoint, 2018)