Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Arthur Miller’s Note


Following up to “Musical Memory Lane,” this was the note written by the playwright Arthur Miller to young writers that is behind glass in the lobby of the Scholastic Publishing building. It is one of the most inspiring messages about art I have ever seen, and the perfect send-off for tomorrow’s journey to Vermont.

To be an artist you will need to be lazy and hard-working, a liar and a truth-addict, a patriot and critic of your country, a nice person and a disgusting one, and on and on. If you can contain your contradictions and find a way to express them, you may with luck be an artist. Good luck.

5/17/97 – Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller note

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

4 thoughts on “Arthur Miller’s Note

  1. Great send off for your writing retreat. I’m not crazy about Miller, however. I wrote a novel about Marilyn Monroe and did a lot of research. Miller was a great artist, but not a great human being. Part of his being a great writer was he had no qualms about devouring the essence of the people close to him and getting the core of his characters that way. It feels like he stole their souls, particularly Marilyn. Perhaps that’s what it takes. Good luck. Keep us posted.

    • Thank you for your comment. I read it aloud to my family at the dinner table and it sparked a very spirited conversation about how some of the best writers tend to need, use and discard muses, the line at which an artist decides to commit to his/her art without regard for anything or anyone else, and when an artist must edit him/herself due to conscience. I suspect many writers are not great human beings and perhaps it’s the ability to channel their flaws into their work which makes it so compelling. It seems from the note that Miller at least recognized this about himself. Btw, what is your book? I would love to read it!

  2. I like this quote very much. I like the phrase “containing your contradictions” much better than anything I’ve heard about “balance”.

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