Posts tagged with “writing”

Posted 2 years ago


Geraldine Brooks, from the introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2011 

Posted 2 years ago
It’s so important to be able to write correctly, it sounds basic but it’s true […] It teaches you to be able to put your feelings into words, to understand and explain why you liked a film, to say why it’s true for you, and it makes you defend yourself, it’s so great. It’s one of the best exercises I can imagine to prepare you to make films.
Posted 2 years ago

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“At a time like this that’s all you can think to say?”

“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

“I don’t think I’m quite familiar with that phrase.”

“I would not say such things if I were you!”

“I do not suppose you could speed things up?”

“Skip to the end!”

“That is the sound of ultimate suffering.”


Posted 2 years ago
I envy writers that I hear about who go to their office at 9 and write until 5. And by write I mean they’re actually typing. I go to an office every day and I throw a ball against the wall and I check ESPN and I talk to my friends and I order a pizza and I take a nap. For me, I’m an on/off switch. If I’m writing well, which means writing at all, really, then I’m happy. I can handle any problem. If I’m not writing, I’m miserable.
Posted 3 years ago
Posted 3 years ago
The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door. He took off his hat and came slowly forward. The floorboards creaked under his boots. In his black suit he stood in the dark glass where the lilies leaned so palely from their waisted cutglass vase. Along the cold hallway behind him hung the portraits of forebears only dimly known to him all framed in glass and dimly lit above the narrow wainscotting. He looked down at the guttered candlestub. He pressed his thumbprint in the warm wax pooled on the oak veneer. Lastly he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin. That was not sleeping. That was not sleeping.

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

(I don’t know what it is about these words but they do something to me.)

Posted 3 years ago

John Irving - The Art of Fiction No. 93

  1. Interviewer: Are you willing to say anything more about the novel you’re working on?
  2. Irving: It will be called "A Prayer for Owen Meany". It’s about this little guy — both a hero and a victim — who believes that he’s been appointed by God, that he’s been specially chosen; and that the rather terrible “fate” he encounters is all part of his divine assignment. And it’s the writer’s job, isn’t it, to make the readers wonder if maybe this isn’t entirely true? Even the doubters. I have to convince them of little Owen Meany’s special appointment in the universe, too. In that sense, maybe, writing a novel is always a religious act, in that we have to believe that our characters are appointed — even if only by us — and that their acts are not accidents, their responses not random.
Posted 3 years ago
I believe every city and town should contain at least one remote spot, preferably a beautiful and mysterious one, that you see but never visit.
Michael Cunningham, Land’s End: A Walk Through Provincetown, p.40
Posted 3 years ago
It’s more or less accepted among those who’ve tried that a Ph.D. will at some point drive one insane: depression, even outright nervous breakdown, is almost a rite of passage for the aspiring academic. Long hours spent alone with potentially limitless reading lists, an almost total absence (beyond regular supervisions) of supportive audience for what you’re writing, together with the demand that you work at a level as advanced as senior academics without any of their material recompense – all of this seems calculated to crush the spirit.

RB and me: an education | The Dublin Review

Welcome to my world, guys.

This is just a brief and incidental selection from a wonderful autobiographical essay by Brian Dillon about the trials and tribulations of getting an education in books and in life. (If Brian wasn’t my colleague he’d be the ideal intellectual’s celebrity crush.)