Archive for the 'Writers on Craft' Category

Be kind whenever possible, and carry a backpack full of wit and cunning around with you, just in case kindness fails.

Writing seems to be more tied to my psychological well-being than it used to be. Not sure what to make of that.

I’ll focus, then, on not letting go of a story too soon, and paying special attention to the ending—it’s tempting to think that a story is done when it is so in a general manner, but the ending should be at least as good as everything that precedes it. I find that it’s interesting to tie loose ends, either completing a circle to the beginning or marking a process of change.

Show compassion toward the small and helpless among us. Also, invest in quality bed linens. You can’t put a price on comfort.

If it doesn’t fit, cut it. If it doesn’t lend itself to inference by a reader, cut it. I’m a big fan of cutting. I respond best to incisive writing that assumes an intelligent reader.

Editors really want to like your work. I think most submitters, the newer writers, think the opposite, that editors sit in a room with piles and piles of manila envelopes, looking for one poorly placed adverb or one bad simile so they can move on to the next story. In my experience, it’s the opposite: I’m hoping that every time I open a file, it’s a great story and I can show it to my staff, talk them into it because I read it, ate it up, and can’t wait for others to read it, too.

The sex act in and of itself – like eating and shitting – like any basic function, is not that interesting. Everyone does it. What is interesting to me is what sex – like chewing an apple – reveals about character.

Without a doubt: the purpose of literature is to foster empathy.

You are the sum of your life at any time and are wholly responsible for it. Be grateful for luck, and work hard when you aren’t lucky.

One of my favorite passages ever, in all of literature, comes from the Snopes trilogy, where Faulkner takes us into Benji Snopes’ love for the family milk cow, and it just breaks your heart. He wrote as if he could do anything he wanted and make it work, and that inspires me.


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