Archive for the 'Writers on Craft' Category

Get a dog. If you don’t have one, you’re missing out.

I take myself less seriously all the time. When I think about how seriously I used to take myself, take my writing, it makes me sad. I wasted so much time on that. You can write serious stories, poems, whatever, without taking it seriously.

You must develop a brutal honesty with yourself.

The delete button is your friend.

Who wants to read a novel written on a billion grains of rice?

Trust your own rhythm and voice. You can edit something until you lose hope or faith in what it could be or what you thought it was. Don’t let it get to that point—where the heart of it is on the cutting room floor.

In the beginning my vision was fairly narrow because I believed that in order to push boundaries one need focus on very select audiences at society’s fringe, whereas now the sky’s the limit. I feel I can write for every audience while still bringing something new to the table, and absolutely love doing romantic comedies—something I despised when I started writing.

When I am despondent and splintered by the lack of words produced on the page, I always read. I curl up inside the brilliance of Kate Braverman, Rilke, Zora Neale Hurston, Bruno Schulz, Janet Frame, Anne Sexton and anyone who frightens me to the edge of a cliff. I also love those writers who offer thick blankets and a fireplace.

When I was a magazine editor, it took about two seconds to tell the amateurs and the dabblers from the professionals. The pros embrace editing, and they know when to pick fights. They tend to see editors as collaborators—and they understand that editors often save writers from their own weaknesses and blind spots. The amateurs argue over every last comma and semicolon; their precious prose is sacrosanct.

And I hold very dearly something Neil Gaiman said about editing, which I’ll paraphrase: If someone tells you there is a problem in your manuscript, they’re probably right. If they tell you a specific way to fix it, they’re probably wrong.


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