This week I read John Rember's MFA in a Box and it hooked me in the introduction with this paragraph:
“I hope that when you finish this book you’ll be able to balance the despair of writing with the deeper joy of writing. I hope you’ll find the courage to put truth into words. I hope you’ll find reasons for being kind and intelligent in the presence of your readers and characters. I hope you’ll understand that writing is a life-and-death endeavor, but nothing about a life-and-death endeavor keeps it from being laugh-out-loud funny.
“I hope you’ll finish this book with more reasons to write than not to write.”
I’d like to share a few of my favorite bits from the text with you here:
“If a part of your story doesn’t puncture or betray another part, you haven’t finished the story.
One crystal-clear vision is worth more to your reader than a dozen brilliant conclusions. Let your reader draw the brilliant conclusions from your vision.
If a story or poem isn’t ending well, go back to the point where you saw what you had to do next and decided it was too scary or too much work, and took the easy way out.
Every draft takes a layer off the surface of your consciousness. Rewriting is a form of personal archaeology, and the good stuff is never on the surface.
Don’t pride yourself on your empathy. You have less than you think you have. Most of the time what you think is empathy is projection, where you assume that someone else’s inside is just like your inside, warts and all. It’s not. People who have been married for twenty years sometimes look at each other and discover they have no idea who the other person is.
Keep a list of the images that have awakened your soul. It’s your personal iconography.”
For me, finding words like these that resonate with my writer’s soul, can be just what I need to keep me at a project, when it would be easier to cast it aside and start something new.
Do you have a favorite quote that keeps you writing through the rough spots?