The Uses of Sorrow:
Someone I loved once gave me
A box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
That this, too, was a gift.
(Saturday Wisdom No. 5)
Saturday Wisdom, No. 4: Have you ever noticed that debut novelists seem to have the most advice about novel writing? I was like that once. The more books I’ve written, the less advice I have to give. Each time out has been a unique — and usually, uniquely painful — experience for me. After six books, what I know — what I know for certain — is how little I know about writing, about readers, about the vagaries of the publishing process. So, that is to say, you probably ought to ignore my advice and keep your own counsel. And yet, my deeply flawed opinion is that it is beyond difficult to write more than one book at a time, to be the servant of two masters. You at some point have to choose one idea and pour all of yourself into it. You have to be all in. The question of how to choose is an entirely different matter of course.
P.S. I thank you for the love.
The lie, of course, is more interesting.
Saturday Wisdom #3: a rich interview with John Irving. I liked this part:
Titles are important; I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue. I love plot, and how can you plot a novel if you don’t know the ending first? How do you know how to introduce a character if you don’t know how he ends up? You might say I back into a novel.
Saturday Wisdom #2:
You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
More writing advice that is not, strictly speaking, writing advice from the best student in section, and a very delightful tattoo — also not, strictly speaking, writing advice, but take it that way if you wish — from one of the most entertaining ladies on tumblr:
Will get a better photo later sans shadow. By Ryan at Sanctuary Tattoo, Portland, Maine. Very happy with it, arm hurts. Also, just got carded buying WATER at a tobacco store that I thought was a convenience store. You have to be 18 just to be in the store!
Saturday Wisdom: My favorite writing quote is by Samuel Beckett though it is not technically a quote about writing.The quote is from a prose piece called Worstward Ho: “Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Rarely a day goes by when I have not thought of that quote upon sitting down at my desk to write.