Lynda Barry. Two Questions. On cultivating creativity and dealing with critics.
Junot Diaz on becoming a writer: It wasn’t that I couldn’t write. I wrote every day. I actually worked really hard at writing. At my desk by 7 A.M., would work a full eight and more. Scribbled at the dinner table, in bed, on the toilet, on the No. 6 train, at Shea Stadium. I did everything I could. But none of it worked. My novel, which I had started with such hope shortly after publishing my first book of stories, wouldn’t budge past the 75-page mark.
Advice from Ira Glass (host and executive producer of This American Life) on living up to our own ambitions: For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
Suan Sontag. Directions: Write, Read, Rewrite. Repeat. Reading novels seems to me such a normal activity, while writing them is such an odd thing to do. . . . At least so I think until I remind myself how firmly the two are related. (No armored generalities here. Just a few remarks.)
Writers on Writing. A New York Times series that features writers exploring literary themes. The archive is available here.
David M. Perry on Public Scholarship. My initial public offering: Why more academics should write for a general audience. I plan to keep writing about the links between the historical past and the present moment. I will also look for other topics to which I might apply my skills as a critical thinker and my experiences as a teacher, scholar, and student. I encourage other faculty members to think about how they might find a public voice. Yes, one must risk the nasty comments from trolls and the doubts of colleagues about the importance of public engagement. But how else can we demonstrate the deep and necessary relationship among specialized knowledge, critical thinking, and the world in which we live?
Nate Kreuter on the value of writing that doesn’t get published (Inside Higher Ed): Writing is an act that refuses to be efficient. This is the strength of writing, not its liability. We make new connections and learn what we want to say, even make new discoveries, in the act of writing itself. I am wary of universals, but 30 years of research into the cognitive act of writing shows that we discover new information when we write. This holds true in every discipline, from the humanities to the hard sciences.
Tom Fields-Meyer. Letter to a Young Writer: ‘Get Lost’: Now, when I feel stuck in a writing project or simply run out of ideas, I don’t panic, nor do I start trying to plan. I just sit down and start writing, confident that if I stick with it, I’ll lose my way and find my story.
Kerry Ann Rockquemore. No More Post-Summer Regret. While it’s important to understand the challenges academic writers face during summer breaks, they point to the keys for a productive summer. I believe those are: 1) knowing what you need as a human being and what you need to accomplish as a writer and researcher, 2) creating a realistic plan to meet all of your needs, and 3) connecting with the type of community, support and accountability that will sustain you through the summer months.