Have I mentioned that I’m having a divine time? I sat for three hours and wrote this afternoon after receiving brilliant criticism on the piece I am working on. I went to the beach yesterday, with a picnic: spicy fried chicken, pot stickers, salad, grapefruit soda, and a coconut & chocolate chip cookie. Then I watched the sun set over the water. I heard Maxine Kumin read from her work, and oh, how my breath was lost somewhere as she read, like the flight of birds.
And I went to dinner with Pam and the class tonight. She is charismatic and analytical and forthright. She’s been in the Bronco’s locker room and interviewed Toni Morrison, and she can make a room of people laugh belly laughs repeatedly.
Here are a few things she's said so far this week that I really want to remember:
On why she writes: “Writing is the way I honor the physical world. I think of it as a kind of prayer.”
On craft: “Sink the story into the metaphor. The challenge is how to sidle up next to the big things without becoming lecturers and making total fools out of ourselves.”
“There is nothing worse than trying to say something. You’ll always fuck it up. Keep it concrete.”
“You don’t have to tell everything. Let the concrete specifics stand in for the general.”
You cannot communicate depth using emotion word. ”Just read your seventh grade journal to see that!”
On Revising: by the fourth draft, “take out the things you needed to say to know, but now they can be removed.”
On fiction versus nonfiction: “Everything I write comes out of my experience. I hardly imagine anything.”
Do you know how freeing that was for me to hear? Do you understand how those few sentences made lots of things possible for me with writing, that I hadn’t imagined possible?
On audience; “You must believe your reader is as smart as you are.”