Thinking About Chanel

I was thinking about the quotations I posted two days ago, and thought I would choose a few to write about. So here are my thoughts on what Chanel said, mostly in the context of writing.

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

That’s certainly true for writers. We remember the writers who are different: the Kelly Links, China Miévilles, Catherynne Valentes. They have their unique styles, and that is why we can’t do without them.

“A women who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”

There are many women who do not wear perfume, and they certainly have a future. Indeed, the future may belong to them. But I included this quotation just for me, because I wear perfume every day, and it’s part of who I am and how I think of myself. Sometimes I even wear Chanel.

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”

Which is good advice, generally. But sometimes you need to break through the wall and turn it into a door, and sometimes that is indeed possible. So just keep the possibility in mind.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”

I think this is absolutely true in writing. One day, there will no longer be shelves of young adult vampire novels, or angel novels, or whatever it is we’re into at this point. But the books that speak to us, the books that we remember afterward and that affect our lives, will always be there. And I think this quotation applies specifically to writing style as well. Just as you need to find your own personal style to be elegant, you need to find your own writing style to become a truly memorable writer. You need to find and speak with your own voice.

“Great loves too must be endured.”

Which includes the love of writing, doesn’t it? Sometimes, that kind of love can drive us crazy as well.

“Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.”

Yes, I think this is absolutely true. And we’re going through hard times now, so readers are looking for authentic voices. I’m trying to find that myself, my authentic voice. The way I speak, which comes out of who I am, both as a writer and a person.

“I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like.”

I think this quotation is really about optimism, about realizing that what you do not like, what is difficult, what distresses you may actually be what teaches you. And what may ultimately help you get where you need to go. It’s about the realization that what you do not like has an opposite, and you need to move away from what you do not like toward what you do.  And that you can do that.

“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”

I would say, look for the writer in the book. If there is no writer, there is no book. What I look for in a book is the writer, his or her distinctive voice and way of understanding the world. If I can’t see the writer thinking, hear him or her speaking, there isn’t much point for me.

But I do like how this quotation applies to clothing as well. If the woman isn’t wearing the dress, if the dress is wearing the woman, what’s the point? Style is an expression of your personality. I like to see that personality in a dress, a house, a story.

“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

Yes, why would anyone want to be uncomfortable?

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

Luxury is having beauty all around you. And that doesn’t necessarily cost a lot of money. But it takes creating something beautiful, putting in the time to select what makes you feel comfortable, elegant – and in a certain sense free, because I believe beauty is freeing. Having it around you allows you to focus, to become what you want to be. At least, it always gives me that sense.

“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

I would say, success is often achieved by those who know that failure is inevitable and don’t care. Those who look at failure and say, that was a great learning experience.

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

It’s also the scariest act, because as soon as we think for ourselves aloud, we will be criticized. And we have to learn to take the criticism.

“There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time!”

This quotation is about priorities. What are your priorities? Because I will tell you that if you’re focused on your work, particularly if that work is writing and you’re serious about it, it will take all your time. You will have to make time for love, which is something none of us can live without. (Passionate love, love of family, whatever other kind of love you can think of.) You will have to make time to eat. But the sort of work I’m doing, that you also might want to do (but you have to decide for yourself), will take your life.  Your whole life, if you let it.

“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.”

How do I say this? I feel as though at some point, I decided that I was not a mother, a teacher, a writer, but Theodora Goss being all those things. And then I had to decide how Theodora Goss (strange to speak of myself in the third person) did those things, which might be different from how other people did them. But it was liberating as well, because I was no longer trying to meet a series of societal expectations. Instead, I was trying to be myself. I’m still trying, and you know, I think I’ll be working on that for a while.

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3 Responses to Thinking About Chanel

  1. Maery Rose says:

    Great post! There’s a lot to contemplate here. But that last paragraph really hit me as I’ve been exploring and writing about that same point. Is it okay if I quote from your post a bit with a link back?

  2. Hi Maery! Yes, absolutely. Feel free to quote from or copy anything on the site with a link back. 🙂 (For anyone who’s got questions about this, just see the permissions section on the About page.)

  3. My favorite quote from this post?

    “Luxury is having beauty all around you.”

    So very, very true!

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