Category: why we write

“I don’t see myself as a success story even th…

“I don’t see myself as a success story even though I’ve experienced success. Everything I learned along the way was a strength. If I didn’t have my communities, that many consider broken or forgotten, I wouldn’t be where I am. I don’t want to be a sob story or anybody’s project. I want to show that you can have pride no matter where you come from and joy without forsaking the pain it took to get here.”

Ocean Vuong, in a profile by Rigoberto González in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)

I had a blast writing the first draft…a…

I had a blast writing the first draft…and just let myself take risks and go down rabbit holes, but in the revision, I had to really reign it in and flesh it out….Write the shitty first draft. A finished story is better than a perfect story that just lives in your mind.

Knowing that writing is a process more than it…

Knowing that writing is a process more than it is talent eases most of my anxieties when the words just aren’t there. Baldwin once said, ‘Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.’ Because of this, I keep going back to the blank pages.

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.

I’d love to see more works in translation publ…

I’d love to see more works in translation published in this country—for more publishing houses to commit seriously to the cultivation and dissemination of international literature. …Even stories as place-specific as [Marcus Malte’s] The Boy have much to reveal about all our lives; and, just as importantly, they illuminate and particularize the vast array of human experiences different from our own. One of literature’s great powers is its ability to act as a tonic against xenophobia; there’s never been a moment when that power has been more urgently needed.

“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)

We have no direct access to historical truth, …

We have no direct access to historical truth, and what we feel or assert to be true…depends as much on our imagination as our senses. There is no way by which the events of the world can be directly transmitted or recorded in our brains…our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other and ourselves—the stories we continually re-categorize and refine.

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.

Sometimes writing these poems was a reminder t…

Sometimes writing these poems was a reminder that I was still alive and sometimes I resented the reminder.

Sometimes writing these poems was a reminder t…

Sometimes writing these poems was a reminder that I was still alive and sometimes I resented the reminder.