Category: true for writing

When I was revising…there were two nigh…

When I was revising…there were two nights…where I drank a little gin, listened to nineties hip-hop, and I danced as I wrote and rewrote. I broke night with my poems. In other words, you have to hang out with your book, especially if your book is becoming a living thing.

I’m so interested in how the sight lines, soun…

I’m so interested in how the sight lines, soundscapes, flora and fauna of our childhoods shape us—how those earliest encounters with the land become part of our private, interior vocabularies of dream and thought. And I love novels and stories where geography shapes plot and gives rise to character. I think the question ‘What’s possible or impossible for this human personality in this landscape?’ is a good starting place for fiction.

“It’s a numbers game, folks. The more you try,…

“It’s a numbers game, folks. The more you try, the more you succeed. The less you try, the less you succeed. This is true for everything. If you write more, you will write better. If you think about line length more, you will think about line length better. If you submit more, you will publish more. If you submit better, you will publish better.”

Camille T. Dungy, in “Say Yes to Yourself: A Poet’s Guide to Living and Writing” in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)

When I find myself in the writing weeds, I hav…

When I find myself in the writing weeds, I have finally learned to pay attention to the warning signs: Stop. Go back. Do not push farther in. I resist the urge to soldier on, to muddle through, to fix a line here or there, to delete whole paragraphs that make no sense at that moment, to get to the end of the page….I give in. I nap. Conk out. Let sleep’s hammer fall. Writers write, we’re told endlessly. Yes, but writers must also stop….You only grow when you are lying down. Lie down—the body knits its own plots.

“If we writers have entered into literature ho…

“If we writers have entered into literature hoping for riches and fame, then we probably deserve to be disappointed on that score. There are riches and fame to be had in tech and TV, I hear. Literature, however, both the reading and the writing of it, finds those aspirations obscene precisely because they run counter to how literature works: by the facilitating of our silent realms, those inner reservoirs of stillness….”

William Giraldi, in “Author Envy: The Art of Surviving One’s Own Personality” in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)

I’m writing a novel, and have been for over a …

I’m writing a novel, and have been for over a decade. I’ve had periods of great productivity, days when one thousand-word quotas turn into four thousand words….But working on a singular project for years isn’t easy. Some days the writing rushes like the Rio Grande, and sometimes, weeks, months, or even years pass, and my pages don’t budge. Instead, they buck against my will. When those days arrive, I refuel my well, the headwaters supplying my creative stream. I visit historic archives and museums, galleries and art shows, movies and talks….

Terrance Hayes relayed the Thelonious Monk quo…

Terrance Hayes relayed the Thelonious Monk quote, ‘A genius is the one most like himself’….It truly resonated with me because…I think writing should be connected to the constant ever-evolving work of discovering, (re)imagining, and (re)claiming one’s own selfhood.

I’ve come to some kind of understanding about …

I’ve come to some kind of understanding about what it means for me to be in the act of making….If I’m reading a book, I’m not stuck. If I go to an exhibition, a show, have a drink with friends—if I’m out and I’m engaged with the world, I’m not stuck. If I’m staring at a blank page, frustrated that I can’t get a word out, I am still in the act of making—and to be honest those moments where I can’t produce a thing have been valuable to me, because in some ways it gets me to where I need to be. Some days I want to write, other days I just want to get behind my DJ controller.

I’ve come to some kind of understanding about …

I’ve come to some kind of understanding about what it means for me to be in the act of making….If I’m reading a book, I’m not stuck. If I go to an exhibition, a show, have a drink with friends—if I’m out and I’m engaged with the world, I’m not stuck. If I’m staring at a blank page, frustrated that I can’t get a word out, I am still in the act of making—and to be honest those moments where I can’t produce a thing have been valuable to me, because in some ways it gets me to where I need to be. Some days I want to write, other days I just want to get behind my DJ controller.

“I don’t actually believe in writer’s block. I…

“I don’t actually believe in writer’s block. I believe in fallow periods. I believe fallow periods are necessary to restore the fertility of a field. I believe that if you’re not writing and you’re worried about not writing, you’re likely to one day write again. That if you’re not writing and not worried about not writing, you may have found new things to do with your time, and that’s okay too.”

Camille T. Dungy, in “Say Yes to Yourself: A Poet’s Guide to Living and Writing” in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)