Stuff worth reading

“On how to live life ‘on fire with the same force that made the stars'” by my friend Rose

Every day I recalibrate and try to do better at living with bravery and pushing what I thought were my limits, but I also remember to be kind to myself.

We limit ourselves all the time. We create boxes, we set boundaries, and write ourselves into corners because we are terrified that if we approach something greater, that we will fail. What if, instead, we imagined immensities?

From a Facebook post by David Gerrold, a writer for Star Trek: The Original Series:

Star Trek was about social justice from day one — the stories were about the human pursuit for a better world, a better way of being, the next step up the ladder of sentience.

“Write, Erase, Do It Over: On Failure, Risk and Writing Outside Yourself,” an interview with Toni Morrison

I may be wrong about this, but it seems as though so much fiction, particularly that by younger people, is very much about themselves. Love and death and stuff, but my love, my death, my this, my that. Everybody else is a light character in that play.

When I taught creative writing at Princeton, [my students] had been told all of their lives to write what they knew. I always began the course by saying, “Don’t pay any attention to that.” First, because you don’t know anything and second, because I don’t want to hear about your true love and your mama and your papa and your friends. Think of somebody you don’t know. What about a Mexican waitress in the Rio Grande who can barely speak English? Or what about a Grande Madame in Paris? Things way outside their camp. Imagine it, create it. Don’t record and editorialize on some event that you’ve already lived through. I was always amazed at how effective that was. They were always out of the box when they were given license to imagine something wholly outside their existence. I thought it was a good training for them. Even if they ended up just writing an autobiography, at least they could relate to themselves as strangers.

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8 Comments

  1. An honor, every single time you’ve mentioned any of my writing. Thank you. <3

    • You’re welcome! I think that’s one of my all-time fave posts of yours. There’s just so much rich and wise content in it. I swear, every time I read it, I discover new gems.

      • I seriously just read it again because of your link, and I cried a little because of all the things I had been forgetting to practice. Thank you for the reminder to look back and keep practicing.

  2. Great advice from Toni Morrison. I think I’m going to have to write a whole blog post about how it relates to my writing, but it’s probably one reason that I’ve spent 40+ years writing about two women — an internationally famous reporter and amateur detective, and a lunatic mass murderer. And I’m pretty definitely none of those things. :-)

    Reminds me of the words of Fran Lebowitz: “Your life story would not make a good book. Don’t even try.”

    I’ve also applied this to movies I’ve seen (or not seen). When I was a struggling musician, the last thing I wanted to see a movie about was struggling musicians, for example (a lot of people around me asssumed that the opposite would be true).

    • Lol! I like reading about writing/writers — to a certain extent. But yeah, I often prefer sympathizing with people who are seemingly different from myself — finding the like in the unlike.

      • It’s funny that you mention writers. My first novel has a very small cast, but three of them are writers (of different kinds).

        Since then, I’ve tried to diversfy. :-)

        I did the blog post about how this applies to my writing, by the way.

  3. I love your friend’s advice about being kind to ourselves — it’s so easy to forget to do that, but every bit as important to remember. <3

    • Yep, I forget all the time! Which is why I so appreciated that reminder (and all the other wisdom) in her post.

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