“I start a book and I want to make it perfect, want it to turn every color, want it to be the world. Ten pages in, I’ve already blown it, limited it, made it less, marred it. That’s very discouraging. I hate the book at that point. After a while I arrive at an accommodation: Well, it’s not the ideal, it’s not the perfect object I wanted to make, but maybe—if I go ahead and finish it anyway—I can get it right next time. Maybe I can have another chance.”—Joan Didion (via)
“We’re sensorially deprived right now in modern life. Our eyes are engaged — sometimes our ears — but our bodies? Not so much. These aren’t just bags of bones we’re carrying around. When we cook, when we garden, when we make things with our hands, we’re engaging all of our senses and that has — in ways we don’t really know how to quantify — deeply positive effects on our mental and physical health.”—Writes Michael Pollan in “The End of the World as We Know It” in Issue 6 of Lucky Peach. Cooking, gardening, yes, good for body and brain. Getting your hands on raw earth and dirt, flesh of squash and flesh of pig or lamb. I don’t have a garden, but I get a calmer, better feeling after I water the plants. Does that count as quantifying? Pollan doesn’t mean to limit his argument to food and its preparation. Building, knitting, carving, tuning up a bicycle, making a painting or a necklace, using body and brain in synch to create something out of nothing, all these acts, that require patience and practice, yield eventual satisfaction, a satisfaction specific to making something with your own hands that you can eat or use. And in terms of positive effects on mental and physical health, I think this sort of satisfaction might be one of the most important feelings to cultivate. (via carpentrix)
Roxane Gay: Do you find it difficult to write about women or people of color? I am often asked, by white writers or male writers, “How do I write the Other right?” While I don’t think there is an easy answer to that question, there are stronger and weaker ways of writing difference. What guidelines do you follow when approaching difference in your fiction?
Laird Hunt: I find everything about writing fiction difficult. That’s the first part of my answer. The second is this: years ago I sent myself a postcard — from Kuching, Borneo — with a couple of New Year’s resolutions on it. They were “1: Be Kind. 2: Write More. (repeat).” I still have that card and in honor of the distance it traveled to find me (I was then living in New York) am still attempting to follow its increasingly, it seems, overlapping commands. Those are my guidelines, such as they are, for all my work, whether the characters it contains are like me or they aren’t. I would hope but not expect that by the time my adventures in life and fiction have come to their conclusion I will have lived up to them.
“A writer understands his work as something that originates with him but then, with any luck, gets away from him.”—George Saunders, who says the role of fiction is to “transfer energy from writer to reader” (via austinkleon)