American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
My father treated them with respect and kindness, his main philosophical and spiritual position being: Don?t be an asshole.
No one has expressed it better than a great novelist I heard once on a talk show who said something like You want to know the price I pay for being a writer? Okay, I'll tell you. I travel by plane a great deal. And I'm usually seated next to some huge businessman who works on files or his laptop computer for a while, and then notices me and asks me what I do. And I say I'm a writer. Then there's always a terrible silence. Then he says eagerly, 'Have you written anything I might have heard of?
One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.
Over and over I feel as if my characters know who they are, and what happens to them, and where they have been and where they will go, and what they are capable of doing, but they need me to write it down for them because their handwriting is so bad.
Prayer usually means praise, or surrender, acknowledging that you have run out of bullets.
Rumi: ?Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.?
Sin is not the adult bookstore on the corner. It is the hard heart, the lack of generosity, and all the isms, racism and sexism and so forth. But is there a crack where a ribbon of light might get in, might sneak past all the roadblocks and piles of stones, mental and emotional and cultural? We
Sometimes I could not tell you exactly why, especially when it feels pointless and pitiful, like Sisyphus with cash-flow problems. Other
That writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.
The physical body is acknowledged as dust, the personal drama as delusion. It is as if the world we perceive through our senses, that whole gorgeous and terrible pageant, were the breath-thin surface of a bubble, and everything else, inside and outside, is pure radiance. Both suffering and joy come then like a brief reflection, and death like a pin.
The way I see things, God loves you the same whether you're being elegant or not. It feels much better when you are, but even when you can't fake it, God still listens to your prayers. Again and again I tell God I need help, and God says, 'Well isn't that fabulous? Because I need help too. So you go get that old woman over there some water, and I'll figure out what we're going to do about your stuff.
There is so much mercy around us and in us, so much available to us if we just have the eyes and intention to see it.
They say we are punished not for the sin but by the sin, and I began to feel punished by my unwillingness to forgive.
This is who I want to be in the world. This is who I think we are supposed to be, people who help call forth human beings from deep inside hopelessness.
Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don't drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor's yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.
We can pray for a shot at having a life in which we are present and awake and paying attention and being kind to ourselves. We can pray, Hello? Is there anyone there? We can pray, Am I too far gone, or can you help me get out of my isolated self-obsession? We can say anything to God. It?s all prayer.
We write to expose the unexposed. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer's job is to see what's behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words - not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues. You can't do this without discovering your own true voice, and 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.
What seems true is that something in life, on the highways or in our hearts, is always being installed, or being repaired, or being torn down for the next installation.
When Sam?s having a hard time and being a total baby about the whole thing, I feel so much frustration and rage and self-doubt and worry that it?s like a mini-breakdown. I feel like my mind becomes a lake full of ugly fish and big clumps of algae and coral, of feelings and unhappy memories and rehearsals for future difficulties and failures. I paddle around in it like some crazy old dog, and then I remember that there?s a float in the middle of the lake and I can swim out to it and lie down in the sun. That float is about being loved, by my friends and by God and even sort of by me. And so I lie there and get warm and dry off, and I guess I get bored or else it is human nature because after a while I jump back into the lake, into all that crap. I guess the solution is just to keep trying to get back to the float. This morning Sam woke at 4:00, so
whenever the world throws rose petals at you, which thrill and seduce the ego, beware. The cosmic banana peel is suddenly going to appear underfoot to make sure you don?t take it all too seriously, that you don?t fill up on junk food.
Writer?s block is going to happen to you. You will read what little you?ve written lately and see with absolute clarity that it is total dog shit.
It is funny how no one seems to want my always excellent advice.
It?s not like you don?t have a choice, because you do?you can either type or kill yourself.
Just take it bird by bird.
Life with most teenagers was like having a low-grade bladder infection. It hurts, but you had to tough it out.