HOW TO BE A WRITER

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HOW TO BE A WRITER

Love words.

Be brave: you're going to suck.

Listen to criticism, especially when it stings.

Be humble. You have to face a blank page every morning.

Get off the internet.

If you love words, you want to paint the world with them. You love pounding out the first draft, revising, editing, polishing—all of it. If you love words, big bursts of inspiration are a pleasure. Getting lost in the weeds is a pleasure. Finding clarity after months of hard work is a real joy.

There are days when words are wooden on the page. You can either build a coffin with them or you can build a bridge.

Shimmer

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"Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. It’s there." — Joan Didion

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"Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper." — Ray Bradbury

What I'm reading

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My current favorite authors are Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson, Blake Crouch, JD Salinger, Flannery O’Connor, Stephen King, Truman Capote, Gillian Flynn, Jack Kerouac, Joyce Carol Oates, Edith Wharton, Cormac McCarthy, Dennis Lehane, John Fante, Carson McCullers, Haruki Murakami, Thomas Harris, Caroline Kepnes, Raymond Carver, Vladimir Nabakov, and Tim O'Brien, to name a few.

AN EXCERPT FROM “LIFE SENTENCES” BY ALICE BLANCHARD

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“Anna and I used to cheat in Sunday School,” Daisy confessed all of a sudden. “Did you know that, Mom?”

Lily frowned. “No.”

“We never cheated in regular school or anywhere else. At least I didn’t. I can’t speak for Anna. But we cheated in Sunday School.”

“Whatever for?”

“Out of spite, I think. We couldn’t stand our teacher, Mrs. Galina. She was so dementedly happy all the time, so sickeningly Up-With-People, you know? My attitude was that she didn’t deserve our respect.”

“I don’t pretend to understand you girls.” Lily tipped her face skyward and blinked as eddying, dizzying snowflakes caught on her eyelashes. She looked like a child with her face held like that.

“I feel bad about it now,” Daisy said.

“You don’t sound like you feel bad.”

“I bumped into her one day after Anna was hospitalized for the first time. I was feeling pretty glum, and when I saw Mrs. Galina coming... I gave her such a dirty look. I wanted her to know how much I hated her. And do you know what she did?”

Lily shook her head.

“She smiled at me. She said hello. She was genuinely friendly. It shocked me. It was as if she could see right through me. She could see how miserable I was, and she didn’t care whether I hated her guts or not. She was going to like me anyway, in spite of myself.”