I just read an interview The Paris Review did with Lorrie Moore.
Here are some highlights referencing art, inspiration, writing short
stories versus novels, but the whole thing was great and should be
read in its entirety... here.
"Certainly bitter emotions can fuel art—all kinds of emotions do. But
one is probably best left assembling a narrative in a state of dispassion;
the passion is, paradoxically, better communicated that way."
"One has to imagine, one has to create (exaggerate, lie, fabricate from
whole cloth and patch together from remnants), or the [story] will not
come alive as art. Of course, what one is interested in writing about
often comes from what one has remarked in one’s immediate world
or what one has experienced oneself or perhaps what one’s friends
have experienced. But one takes these observations, feelings, memories,
anecdotes—whatever—and goes on an imaginative journey with them.
What one hopes to do in that journey is to imagine deeply and well and
thereby somehow both gather and mine the best stuff of the world. A
story is a kind of biopsy of human life. A story is both local, specific,
small, and deep, in a kind of penetrating, layered, and revealing way."
For what is worth to those who want to write stories or simply to know
something of one writer's insight in the writing of short fiction, I have
felt the short-story form as some vitality, some force that begins (and
not necessarily at the beginning), grows in force, reaches a point beyond
which it cannot go without losing force, loses force and declines; stops.
For me, story telling is a rhythm, a charged movement, a chain of pulses
or meters. To write out of life is to catch, in pace, this pulse that beats
in the material of life. If one misses this rhythm, his story does not seem
to "work"; is mysteriously dead; seems to imitate life but has not joined
life. The story is therefore uninteresting to the reader (and truly to the
writer himself), or not clear. I believe this is a good principle to consider.
- William Goyen, The Collected Stories of William Goyen
It's all about the sentences. It's about the way the sentences move in
the paragraphs. It's about the rhythm. It's about the ambiguity. It's
about the way emotion, in difficult circumstances, gets captured in
language. It's about instants of consciousness. It's about besieged
consciousness. It's about love trouble. It's about death. It's about
suicide. It's about the body. It's about skepticism. It's against
sentimentality. It's about cheap sentiment. It's about regret. It's
about survival. It's about the sentences used to enact and defend
Igor Termenón shoots gritty fashion spreads, which end up looking
like portraits, and therefore, characters. His work seems like more than
interesting people showing off interesting clothes, but like people with
something to say, a story to move on to, in which they play a major role.
Be inspired. Onward, writers, storytellers, and dreamers.
Love this interview The Paris Review did with Ray Bradbury. Here
are some bits of what he said about writers and what they read:
Do you read your science-fiction contemporaries?
I’ve always believed that you should do very little reading in your
own field once you’re into it. But at the start it’s good to know what
How about writers younger than you?
I prefer not to read the younger writers in the field. Quite often you
can be depressed by discovering they’ve happened onto an idea you
yourself are working on. What you want is simply to get on with
your own work.
You seem to have been open to a variety of influences.
A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a
Two things: As Jim Shepherd says, “Follow your weird.” Figure out
what fascinates you, what makes the little fizzy feeling in your chest
while you’re writing and do that. Don’t worry about what you think
you are supposed to do.
And second: spend 99% your time thinking about writing, and 1%
thinking about the business of publishing. We all know that it’s good
to make connections and network, but all that will come easily if you
have a fully-realized, beautifully executed book or story that’s all
yours, and that sings. Let’s say writing is an ocean, and finding
readers is air that you need in sips, like a whale. Your whole life is
spent swimming deep down, and you come up for a moment, take a
breath, and go back. (Via Slice)
Dilka Bear doesn't create stories, per se - she creates characters.
Each of these works is a dense drop of someone she's created, ready
for some storyteller to come along and expand.
Dilka Bear says she likes to portray a world without the things that
bind us. Smiles make her nervous, which is why she doesn't include
them often; they don't often accurately reflect the world. Have a
look and see if there's a connection between your work and hers...
These photos by Kevin Russ were taken in various spots of California.
When looked at together, they create an idea of a story that, at some
point for some writer, may actually inspire words to string and puzzle
the photos together into something grand. Have a look...
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and
widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers
make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their
truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy
is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping
along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over
and over again.
It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop
the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the
people who are together on that ship.
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
The adjective is the enemy of the noun. - Voltaire
The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech. – Clifton Fadiman
When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but
kill most of them — then the rest will be valuable. They weaken
when close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. - Mark Twain
I think my mistakes were kind of common - leaning on cliches and
adjectives in the place of clear, vivid writing. But at least I knew
how to spell, which seems to be a rarity these days. - Dick Schaap
He was delighted only by moonlight. Moonlight knew no colors and
traced the contours of the terrain only very softly. It covered the
land with a dirty grey, strangling life all night long. This world
molded in lead, where nothing moved but the wind that fell sometimes
like a shadow over the grey forests, and where nothing lived but the
scent of the naked earth, was the only world that he accepted, for it
was much like the world of his soul.
You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest
good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is
endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis
because of the absence of consciousness.
These works by Yamamoto seem to be a study in the magnificence
of melancholia, scenes perfect for storytellers to grab and expand
upon because they're ideal representations of middle-moments -
moments ready for the questions what happened before and what happens after? Of the countless characters up for stories, these
are some of them.
A writer lives, at least, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any
feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of
wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes. - William Sansom
Real writers are those who want to write, need to write, have to write. - Robert Penn Warren
The duty and the task of a writer are those of an interpreter. - Marcel Proust
And so he made his way home, discovering the second truth of
Quests, which is that, mysteriously enough, the path homeward is a
great deal shorter than the path deedward. The sun slips easily
through the sky, as if on a golden rail, and earth seems to positively
skip by under one's feet.
For some reason, I find collections of objects very inspiring, however
they're organized - color, shape, era, etc. So these photographs by
Sara Cwynar really caught my eye. Maybe it's the overall impression
that inspires, or being forced to pay attention and sort the items out,
but there are magical stories here - magical or scientific, surreal,
romantic, quirky, and more. Sort through and see..
Observations often tell more about the observer than the observed. - Chris Geiger
I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of
hopes and fears, of sensations and excitments, awaited those who
had the courage to go forth into it's expanse, to seek real knowledge
of life amidst it's perils.
She is all the great heroines of the world in one. She is more than an
individual. I love her, and I must make her love me. I want to make
Romeo jealous. I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our
laughter, and grow sad. I want a breath of our passion to stir dust
into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain.
Any one of these works by Aniela Sobieski would make a wonderful
short story. A girl with a pet dinosaur, a peculiar waiting room, an
obsessive moth collector, and a mysterious aquatic humanoid with
bright red lips. Any of these sounds good to me.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can
see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the
people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you
started is not the same as never leaving.
Stories of wonder often have their beginnings in noticing some magic
everyone else has missed, in making some connection no one else has
seen, or in illuminating some ordinary thing with skill and style so
that it seems extraordinary. - Connie Willis
These illustrations by Kaspian Shore look to me like a series of book
covers (think of The Vampire Diaries series). Each is a different
character, or a few characters slowly changing in this mixed up
science fiction/fantasy world. I'm intrigued - and provoked to try
and dream up who they might be.. Hope you are too.
So there's this fascinating book edited by Jeff Vandermeer called The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. It's full of short
stories posing as real anecdotes of Lambshead's life and collection.
What was extra fascinating to me were these little blurbs in the back
- more anecdotes, but little paragraphs of mystery and eccentricity
instead of full-on stories. Let the imagination bleed; I was very
inspired by these and I think you would be too. Here's one:
Silence, One Ounce—Origins unknown. Found amongst the
possessions of the recently deceased Frank Hayes, thirty-four, who
tragically lost his life when he stepped in front of a public bus that
failed to stop. Its provenance is thought to include M. Twain, W.
Wilson, and the Marquis de Sade. Handle with care, not to be
administered more than one drop at a time. Silence is golden, but
too much will kill you. (blurb by Willow Holster)
There are books full of great writing that don't have very good stories.
Read sometimes for the story... don't be like the book-snobs who
won't do that. Read sometimes for the words--the language. Don't be
like the play-it-safers who won't do that. But when you find a book
that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.
The bristling eyebrows shot up in mock surprise. Mesmerized, the
boy watched them disappear under the hanging thatch of white hair.
There, almost coyly, they remained just out of sight for a moment,
before suddenly descending with a terrible finality and weight.
I believe that dreams - day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide
open and your brain machinery whizzing - are likely to lead to the
betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the
imaginative man or woman most apt to create, invent, and therefore
to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales
are of untold value in developing imagination in the young.
I believe it.
I would describe Megan as a master of visual personality. Take
the first image, for example - each character has a specific posture,
expression, and visual leaning that fantastically communicate her
personality. And no two are alike. There are characters here
already, waiting for words, for histories, for paths to travel down.
Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that
few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that
finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words
we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives
and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no
matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover,
or how much we learn or forget—we will return.
Five Things Not To Do When Writing a Book by Brian Klems
1. Do Not Tell Anyone The Plot of Your Book
When you’re writing a book, occasionally someone — like a
family member, friend or that loaded guy sitting next to you at the
bar — will con you into talking about your book while you’re
writing it. Wrong move. They will offer unsolicited pieces of
advice. Best to stay hush-hush about it until it’s finished and you
can have it edited or work-shopped by other writers.
2. Do Not Get Attached to Any Part of Your Book
As writers, we often fall in love with our own writing and plot
points. This happens to me all the time. I write an awesome first
paragraph and continue writing a chapter. As I go along, it’s clear
that the chapter has taken a decidedly different turn and that first
paragraph doesn’t quite fit. But I love that first paragraph. So I
spend countless hours rewriting the rest of the chapter, even
though deep down I know the only real solution is to cut that first
paragraph. It’s brutally painful, but not cutting it is a mistake
rookie writers make.