In 1938 aspiring author Frances Turnbull sent a copy of one of her stories to Francisc Scott Fitzgerald. In the feedback he offers her there’s one great piece of advice: “You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.”
You can read the rest of the letter here. It’s really worth the time, and it’s the kind of advice writers give only to closest friends. It’s not something you can tell anyone about, because most people will think you’re crazy.
Now, about selling your heart… Continue reading
Everything I write acts as a sort of personal metaphor; I try to add a bit of myself in each and everyone of my stories. It’s probably the easiest way to add realism to a fictional world. And furthermore, I’m the one person I know best in the world, so to speak.
But it wasn’t always like that. Continue reading
You’ve got five painters in the same room, painting the same object. If all five of them employ the same style (or manner) when painting that object, almost always at least four of them are doing something wrong.
At least two of them would much rather paint something else, and of those two at least one would use the same style and technique as before.
Also, at least one of them would like to paint the same object, but in a different style.
What I’m trying to say is that there are only two requirements when making art: one is to be passionate about your subject matter, and the other one is to do it exactly how you feel like it. Continue reading
I realized something today about the way certain works of art make me feel, something I couldn’t exactly describe until now.
So, here goes nothing: Certain works of art make us feel nostalgic about things we never even experienced.
For a few minutes or hours or whatever, we find ourselves submerged in a world that could never really existed, and at the same time we feel that if it were to exist, it would still be a world we’d never belong to.
It’s a strange feeling, to read about experiences you never experienced, to see things you never saw in person, to hear what your ears never heard, and feel nostalgic about them. It’s like a deja vu, actually.
I believe the biggest difference between artists and “normal” people is the artists’ ability to describe what everyone feels, and sometimes, if they’re lucky, to describe something no one else has felt before.
Maybe this is one of the great things about art: making the impossible not possible, but plausible. To give us hope that the life we think we deserve can exist.
We’ve been told (and we keep on telling ourselves on a regular basis) that life finds a way, that somehow things turn out for the better. That if you want it, you can have it.
Sadly, that’s not true.
Do you know what keeps me up some nights? It’s the fear that somehow I won’t be able to write anymore, that somehow life’s going to take that away from me. And that I won’t be able to find a way, that life just won’t want to present me with a solution. Continue reading
If you write long enough odds are that you’ll start working on a story for longer than normal. Odds are that you’ll try to make it perfect, even when it’s clear that you’re just afraid to let it go. You’ll fear rejection and bad reviews. You’ll think you’re not good enough to write the story the way it deserves to be written. You haven’t lived long enough and stuff like that.
Maybe you do so because you feel this story’s the “one.” This is the story where you actually say something no one else can, where you leave behind more of you than you’ve done before. It’s a story that defines who you are more than anything else ever written. Continue reading
One of my favorite quotes goes like this: “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
Ambrose Redmon said that.
Fear is an impulse, or like the tattoo on my arm says, “Fear is the mind killer.” Frank Herbert said that. In Dune. So you can’t stop being afraid, but you can fight fear, you can control it.
I don’t think I ever told you how I became a writer. Or if I did, it was long ago. Continue reading