Posts Tagged: Why Write

WHERE I WRITE #1: Hotels, Highways, Hotspots, Haiti

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If I were independently wealthy, I would be less for it, because the chase for money to pay for food, shelter, babies, and now small children has taken me from sharing with two women an eighty square foot octagonal house originally built in the early twentieth century in rural Florida to house a wealthy child’s doll collection, to a room in a massive and mostly unoccupied schoolhouse converted into a lakefront hotel by the tax evading gangster Al Capone

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The Rumpus Interview with Robert McKee

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Robert McKee is best known to the world in two ways: as the guy who teaches the popular STORY seminar in Los Angeles and around the world to would-be screenwriters, and as the character in the film Adaptation who teaches a popular screenwriting seminar at which the Charlie Kaufman character is berated after standing up and asking tentatively and desperately, “Sir, what if a writer is attempting to create a story where nothing much happens?

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Sigrid Nunez Remembers Susan Sontag

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Here’s some weekend reading: Sigrid Nunez has written a beautiful memoir of Susan Sontag in the latest issue of Tin House. (The text is not available online, but I highly recommend you pick up this issue of Tin House: it’s a really good one.) Nunez was involved with Sontag’s son David, and all three lived together for many years, and much of the memoir is about that time, but Nunez and Sontag remained friends for years after their household split up.

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The Scholars and the Pornographer

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Dame Helen Gardner and George Newton Bowlin Laws—it seems funny, but very good to me to see them in the same sentence.

I first saw Helen Gardner, brilliant scholar, denizen of Oxford University, later to be made a Dame on her learning alone, at UCLA.  She was so smart and so dazzling in the way she taught that she made your eyes water.

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Why I Write (About Music)

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I have two of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies index cards taped to my monitor. They are supposed to motivate me while slowly radiating guilt. Obliquely, I guess. One reads: Not building a wall, but making a brick (sands, time, hourglass, you see?) The other: What are you really thinking about just now?

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Why I Write

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typewriter_john_olsen_011.

I think I was 10 when I started writing poems. My father gave me his old manual typewriter and I banged them out, two, three a day, hanging them on my walls, surrounding myself with them, until my walls were covered floor to ceiling.

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“What does a science fiction writer know about?”

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“I can’t claim to be an authority on anything, but I can honestly say that certain matters absolutely fascinate me, and that I write about them all the time. The two basic topics which fascinate me are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?” Over the twenty-seven years in which I have published novels and stories I have investigated these two interrelated topics over and over again.”

Philip K.

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The Perfect Murder Weapon

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“Hey, kid, what’s the perfect murder weapon?”

George Covaleski used to ask me this question every time I went to see him. No matter how hard I tried, I could never come up with the right answer.

George knew a lot about murder weapons and the many ways people could get killed.

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When The Rent’s Due Soon

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“After opening my post on many mornings, I indulge in a few minutes of anguish and muted screams, then devote the next hour or more, if necessary, to tackling the mess.

When I have satisfied myself that I have done the best I can by letter and telephone, I stand up from my desk and try to pretend I am not me, that I have no problems, that the past hour or more has not really happened, because I have to think myself into a state of innocence and the absence of worries of any kind in order to work.

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A Writer, a Traveler, and an Expat

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I’m a congenital traveler, had been long before I wrote my first book. I took my first plane ride when I was two weeks old (taught me to travel light) and haven’t slowed since. Other than the frequency of travel (you want me to come to China and you’ll pay for it?

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VQR Interviews Michelle Orange

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The Rumpus’s own Michelle Orange has a contribution in the Virginia Quarterly Review‘s most recent issue.

The piece, entitled “Beirut Rising,” “entertains with its amusing depiction of the Lebanese passion for plastic surgery, but the essay also penetrates deep into to the sadness at the city’s core.”

In order to highlight the piece, VQR‘s Anna Sheaffer asked Michelle 6 questions to “get her thoughts on Beirut’s political future, travel writing, and reporting in territory where journalists are suspect.”

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Decaying Socialism: Good For Struggling Writers?

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Craig Fehrman’s post earlier today, The Freelance Life, got me thinking about something interesting I read in The Wreck of the Henry Clay last week.

In a post from April 2003, entitled Marx’s Neurosis About Money, Caleb Crain quoted Edmund Wilson to the effect that “Karl Marx’s social theories suited his psychological needs as an ambitious writer who was chronically broke and less than honest with himself about money.”

This passage reminded Crain of a “half-baked idea” he’d had while living in Prague, at a time when “socialism had been so recently overturned that capitalism had not yet set in.”

Namely, the idea was that socialism presents, to the struggling writer, an “awfully convenient arrangement”: under capitalism, if a writer takes a low-paying, intellectually undemanding job in order to reserve something for his writing, he is subject to self-doubt (owing to the lack of success implied by a lack of money); whereas under socialism, jobs that are intellectually demanding don’t pay much more than undemanding ones, and moreover they make you complicit with the regime, so a writer is free — perhaps even obligated!

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Why Starting a Book is Hard

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“As soon as we feel that the writing we are contemplating matters, our defensive system kicks in, and our fear that we can’t think well enough raises its ugly head. We are wrestled to the ground by the fact that we are trying to matter.

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