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Life is sentences

Writing

As I build sentences, I roll them sometimes on …

As I build sentences, I roll them sometimes on my mouth to taste them as I write them. I have this emptying of the mind and the focusing on that single thing, that infinitesimal moment and there is perfection, you know, as if I exist fully in that nanosecond of emotion.

As I build sentences, I roll them sometimes on my mouth to taste them as I write them. I have this emptying of the mind and the focusing on that single thing, that infinitesimal moment…

Neither black/red/yellow nor woman but poet or …

Neither black/red/yellow nor woman but poet or writer. For many of us, the question of priorities remains a crucial issue. Being merely "a writer" without a doubt ensures one a status of far greater weight than being "a woman of color who writes" ever does. Imputing race or sex to the creative act has long been a means by which the literary establishment cheapens and discredits the achievements of non-mainstream women writers. She who "happens to be" a (non-white) Third World member, a woman, and a writer is bound to go through the ordeal of exposing her work to the abuse and praises and criticisms that either ignore, dispense with, or overemphasize her racial and sexual attributes. Yet the time has passed when she can confidently identify herself with a profession or artistic vocation without questioning and relating it to her color-woman condition.

Neither black/red/yellow nor woman but poet or writer. For many of us, the question of priorities remains a crucial issue. Being merely “a writer” without a doubt ensures one a status of far greater weight…

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you …

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.

I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are…

I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children will speak for you when you are dead.

I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children…

The cry that ‘fantasy is escapist’ compared to …

The cry that 'fantasy is escapist' compared to the novel is only an echo of the older cry that novels are 'escapist' compared with biography, and to both cries one should make the same answer: that freedom to invent outweighs loyalty to mere happenstance, the accidents of history; and good readers should know how to filter a general applicability from a particular story.

The cry that ‘fantasy is escapist’ compared to the novel is only an echo of the older cry that novels are ‘escapist’ compared with biography, and to both cries one should make the same answer:…

I have always held the old-fashioned opinion th…

I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of work of fiction should be to tell a story.

I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of work of fiction should be to tell a story.

To withhold words is power. But to share our wo…

To withhold words is power. But to share our words with others, openly and honestly, is also power.

To withhold words is power. But to share our words with others, openly and honestly, is also power.

To be read. To be heard. To be seen. I want to …

To be read. To be heard. To be seen. I want to be read, I want to be heard. I don't need to be seen. To write requires an ego, a belief that what you say matters. Writing also requires an aching curiosity leading you to discover, uncover, what is gnawing at your bones. Words have a weight to them. How you choose to present them and to whom is a matter of style and choice.

To be read. To be heard. To be seen. I want to be read, I want to be heard. I don’t need to be seen. To write requires an ego, a belief that what you…

There is an art to writing, and it is not alway…

There is an art to writing, and it is not always disclosure. The act itself can be beautiful, revelatory, and private.

There is an art to writing, and it is not always disclosure. The act itself can be beautiful, revelatory, and private.

I do not write every day. I write to the questi…

I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.

I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory…

I am no longer a writer. Just an emotion. An em…

I am no longer a writer. Just an emotion. An emotion that is unable to stay within its own body, and is therefore, trying to make its way into yours.

I am no longer a writer. Just an emotion. An emotion that is unable to stay within its own body, and is therefore, trying to make its way into yours.

(Feedback) People become addicted to it. That’s…

(Feedback) People become addicted to it. That’s why journalism is so popular, because you want to hear, every day, what people think of what you just wrote. I think a little patience on that front can be good, too.

(Feedback) People become addicted to it. That’s why journalism is so popular, because you want to hear, every day, what people think of what you just wrote. I think a little patience on that front…

Some writers are the kind of solo violinists wh…

Some writers are the kind of solo violinists who need complete silence to tune their instruments. Others want to hear every member of the orchestra—they’ll take a cue from a clarinet, from an oboe, even. I am one of those. My writing desk is covered in open novels. I read lines to swim in a certain sensibility, to strike a particular note, to encourage rigour when I’m too sentimental, to bring verbal ease when I’m syntactically uptight. I think of reading like a balanced diet; if your sentences are baggy, too baroque, cut back on fatty Foster Wallace, say, and pick up Kafka, as roughage. If your aesthetic has become so refined it is stopping you from placing a single black mark on white paper, stop worrying so much about what Nabokov would say; pick up Dostoyevsky, patron saint of substance over style.

Some writers are the kind of solo violinists who need complete silence to tune their instruments. Others want to hear every member of the orchestra—they’ll take a cue from a clarinet, from an oboe, even.…

It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. …

It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself. This is hard to do alone.

It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself. This is hard to do alone.

Sometimes when I’m writing, I wonder if the wor…

Sometimes when I'm writing, I wonder if the words have a mind of their own, and if they're really just using me as a puppet to manifest themselves.

Sometimes when I’m writing, I wonder if the words have a mind of their own, and if they’re really just using me as a puppet to manifest themselves.

Q: Where and when do you do your writing? A: An…

Q: Where and when do you do your writing? A: Any small room with no natural light will do. As for when, I have no particular schedules... afternoons are best, but I'm too lethargic for any real regime. When I'm in the flow of something I can do a regular 9 to 5; when I don't know where I'm going with an idea, I'm lucky if I do two hours of productive work. There is nothing more off-putting to a would-be novelist to hear about how so-and-so wakes up at four in the a.m, walks the dog, drinks three liters of black coffee and then writes 3,000 words a day, or that some other asshole only works half an hour every two weeks, does fifty press-ups and stands on his head before and after the "creative moment." I remember reading that kind of stuff in profiles like this and becoming convinced everything I was doing was wrong. What's the American phrase? If it ain't broke...

Q: Where and when do you do your writing? A: Any small room with no natural light will do. As for when, I have no particular schedules… afternoons are best, but I’m too lethargic for…

USURY: Everybody’s looking for the job in which…

USURY: Everybody's looking for the job in which you never have to pay anyone their pound of flesh. Self-employed nirvana. A lot of artists like to think of themselves as uncompromising; a lot of management consultants won't tell you what they do until they've sunk five pints. I don't think anybody should give themselves air just because they don't have to hand over a pound of flesh every day at 5pm, and I don't think anyone should beat themselves with broken glass because they do. If you're an artist, well, good for you. Thank your lucky stars every evening and dance in the garden with the fairies. But don't fool yourself that you occupy some kind of higher moral ground. You have to work for that. Writing a few lines, painting a pretty picture - that just won't do it.

USURY: Everybody’s looking for the job in which you never have to pay anyone their pound of flesh. Self-employed nirvana. A lot of artists like to think of themselves as uncompromising; a lot of management…

When I write I am trying to express my way of b…

When I write I am trying to express my way of being in the world. This is primarily a process of elimination: once you have removed all the dead language, the second-hand dogma, the truths that are not your own but other people's, the mottos, the slogans, the out-and-out lies of your nation, the myths of your historical moment - once you have removed all that warps experience into a shape you do not recognise and do not believe in - what you are left with is something approximating the truth of your own conception.

When I write I am trying to express my way of being in the world. This is primarily a process of elimination: once you have removed all the dead language, the second-hand dogma, the truths…

Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to …

Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.

Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.

All a poet can do today is warn.

All a poet can do today is warn.

All a poet can do today is warn.

Rules such as “Write what you know,” and “Show,…

Rules such as "Write what you know," and "Show, don't tell," while doubtlessly grounded in good sense, can be ignored with impunity by any novelist nimble enough to get away with it. There is, in fact, only one rule in writing fiction: Whatever works, works.

Rules such as “Write what you know,” and “Show, don’t tell,” while doubtlessly grounded in good sense, can be ignored with impunity by any novelist nimble enough to get away with it. There is, in…

On their sofas of spice and feathers, the concu…

On their sofas of spice and feathers, the concubines also slept fretfully. In those days the Earth was still flat, and people dreamed often of falling over edges.

On their sofas of spice and feathers, the concubines also slept fretfully. In those days the Earth was still flat, and people dreamed often of falling over edges.

She continued weeping until the heat of her tea…

She continued weeping until the heat of her tear water, the sheer velocity of its flow, finally obscured the already vague circumstances of its origins.

She continued weeping until the heat of her tear water, the sheer velocity of its flow, finally obscured the already vague circumstances of its origins.

If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, i…

If this typewriter can't do it, then fuck it, it can't be done.

If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.

penilosophy.

penilosophy.

penilosophy.

Having had virtually no contact with the outsid…

Having had virtually no contact with the outside world for the last few weeks, Evan had temporarily forgotten the social norms governing shopping conduct or approaching celebrities in public.

Having had virtually no contact with the outside world for the last few weeks, Evan had temporarily forgotten the social norms governing shopping conduct or approaching celebrities in public.

You’re loco, Carlos. Insane. Totally crazy… Mos…

You’re loco, Carlos. Insane. Totally crazy… Most guys think they’re imperfect for still being virgins past the age of seventeen.

You’re loco, Carlos. Insane. Totally crazy… Most guys think they’re imperfect for still being virgins past the age of seventeen.

Yeah. Isn’t it great?

Yeah. Isn’t it great?

Yeah. Isn’t it great?

The unlikely group that resulted from the union…

The unlikely group that resulted from the union of five diverse characters in their late twenties operated with surprising harmony. This cohesiveness could be attributed to two factors: 1) everyone’s issues and embarrassing pasts were plainly disclosed prior to the gang’s formation and 2) the clan had been expressly conceived as a male support group.

The unlikely group that resulted from the union of five diverse characters in their late twenties operated with surprising harmony. This cohesiveness could be attributed to two factors: 1) everyone’s issues and embarrassing pasts were…

Still not sure about how easily he could be int…

Still not sure about how easily he could be integrated into their posse, Trevor smiled in delighted relief at how tolerantly two of his close friends had received his new identity.

Still not sure about how easily he could be integrated into their posse, Trevor smiled in delighted relief at how tolerantly two of his close friends had received his new identity.

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