American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
You must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this.
You can tell if people are following Jesus, because they are feeding the poor, sharing their wealth, and trying to get everyone medical insurance.
You need to find people who laugh gently at themselves, who remind you gently to lighten up.
You can't find your true voice and peer behind the door and report honestly and clearly to us if your parents are reading over your shoulder. They are probably the ones who told you not to open that door in the first place. You can tell if you they're there because a small voice will say, 'Oh, whoops, don't say that, that's a secret,' or 'That's a bad work,' or 'Don't tell anyone you jack off. They'll all start doing it.' So you have to breathe or pray or do therapy to send them away. Write as if your parents are dead.
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
You celebrate what works and you take tender care of what doesn?t, with lotion, polish, and kindness.
You should not bring more items and hurdles to the obstacle course.
You don't always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.
You stop pretending life is such fin or makes sense. It's often messy and cruel and dull, and we do the best we can. It's unfair, and jerks seem to win. But you fall in love with a few people.
Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it is right.
You don't even have to know how or in what way, but if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.
You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively.
Yet union with a partner?someone with whom to wake, whom you love, and talk with on and off all day, and sit with at dinner, and watch TV and movies with, and read together in bed with, and do hard tasks with, and are loved by. That sounds really lovely.
You don't want to spend your time around people who make you hold your breath. You can't fill up when you're holding your breath. And writing is about filling up, filling up when you are empty, letting images and ideas and smells run down like water - just as writing is also about dealing with the emptiness.
You want to avoid at all costs drawing your characters on those that already exist in other works of fiction. You must learn about people from people, not from what you read. Your reading should confirm what you?ve observed in the world.
Yet, I get to tell my truth. I get to seek meaning and realization. I get to live fully, wildly, imperfectly. That's why I'm alive. And all I actually have to offer as a writer, is my version of life. Every single thing that has happened to me is mine. As I've said a hundred times, if people wanted me to write more warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
You get your confidence and intuition back by trusting yourself, by being militantly on your own side. You need to trust yourself, especially on a first draft, where amid the anxiety and self-doubt, there should be a real sense of your imagination and your memories walking and woolgathering, tramping the hills, romping all over the place. Trust them. Don't look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.
You want to protect your child from pain, and what you get instead is life, and grace; and though theologians insist that grace is freely given, the truth is that sometimes you pay for it through the nose. And you can't pay your child's way.
You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart--your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it's why you were born.
You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn?t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.
You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. God loved you no matter how crazy you felt on the inside, no matter what a fake you were; always, even in your current condition, even before coffee. God loves you crazily, like I love you...like a slightly overweight auntie, who sees only your marvelousness and need.
You are going to love some of your characters, because they are you or some facet of you, and you are going to hate some of your characters for the same reason. But no matter what, you are probably going to have to let bad things happen to some of the characters you love or you won't have much of a story. Bad things happen to good characters, because our actions have consequences, and we do not all behave perfectly all the time.