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Reality and Fiction

At certain points in history it is only the poetic that is capable of dealing with brute reality. The writer arrives at the conjunction of these two forces — reality and fiction — and makes a decision about how to proceed. There she stands, on the edge of two tectonic plates. What she has to…

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Why Do We Tell Stories?

Why do we tell stories? Why do we have a deep need to tell one another that which is real and invented? Why do we need to lean across the table, or the fireside, or the fabulously intertwined wires of the Internet, and whisper “Listen”? We tell stories because we’re somewhat sick of reality and…

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Get Lost, Get Found

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” ― Virginia Woolf When we write novels we often have no idea where we are going. We’re operating on the fumes of the language and the sudden feeling that what we are doing has texture and depth. A writer suddenly…

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Tell The Truth

It is your job as a writer to tell the world something it does not already know. This is easily said, but so difficult to do. Seek out those truths that are not self-evident. The more freedom a writer has the more she must become a critic of the place she lives. Depth begins at…

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Be a Hero, Be a Fool

To be a hero, you have to be willing to play the fool. You should speak the truth, even when – or maybe especially when – it’s unpopular. The proper fool speaks against war and greed and shallow ignorance. He shoots his mouth off. But he shoots it off in the right direction.    …

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Where Should I Write?

Writers write just about everywhere. In ships. On trains. In libraries. On the subway. In the cafe. In writer’s getaways. On top of fridges. In plush offices. In jail cells. In the heart of hollowed-out trees. There’s a good deal of shite talked about writers in their garrets (mea culpa, I sometimes work in a…

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What Should I Read When Working on a Novel?

Let’s file this one under The Anxiety of Influence. What happens if I discover that someone is writing the same thing as me? What happens if I accidentally echo a line? What happens if I get thrown in the wrong direction? What happens if I over-reach? What happens if I fall out of a tree…

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Be Exhausted When You Finish

You should be exhausted when you finish your story. You should feel as if you have just ripped yourself open and that there is nothing more to give. Doubt yourself. Be convinced that you are a charlatan. Anything good you wrote was entirely accidental. Be sure that you will never be able to do it…

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Letter to A Young Writer, Redux

“That is the mystery about writing: it comes out of afflictions, out of the gouged times, when the heart is cut open.” ― Edna O’Brien Young writer, has the passion of our calling been robbed from us? It often seems that the crisis of our age is that we are living in stunned submission to…

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