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Recommended Books
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    Plume
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    Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
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    The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry
    by Brooke A. Wharton
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    Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
    by Ambrose Bierce, Jan Freeman
  • The Writer's Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the Twentieth Century's Preeminent Writers (Modern Library)
    The Writer's Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the Twentieth Century's Preeminent Writers (Modern Library)
    Modern Library
  • The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
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    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
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    The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
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    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
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    Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
    by Natalie Goldberg (Author)
  • Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
    Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
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  • Writing for Your Life
    Writing for Your Life
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  • The Writing Life
    The Writing Life
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  • The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    by Marie Arana
  • The Writing of Fiction
    The Writing of Fiction
    by Edith Wharton
  • Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    by Lawrence Block
  • Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    by Bonnie Friedman
  • You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    by Regina Weinreich, Jack Kerouac
  • Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    by Ray Bradbury

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Tuesday
Dec292015

Each Deletion Is A Triumph

On the third or fourth draft, pencil in hand, I reread my test, by this point practically a fair copy, and eliminate whatever can be eliminated, whatever seems useless. Each deletion is a triumph. At the bottom of every page I write, “crossed out seven words,” “crossed out ten words,” as the case may be. It gives me great pleasure to get rid of what is futile.

MARGUERITE YOURCENAR

Monday
Dec282015

Leave Room for Acts of the Spirit

All makers must leave room for the acts of the spirit. But they have to work hard and carefully, and wait patiently, to deserve them.

URSULA LE GUIN

Sunday
Dec272015

Margaret Atwood’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type. 

3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do. 

4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick. 

5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting. 

6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B. 

7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up. 

9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visualization of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

Saturday
Dec262015

The Best Literature Is Always A Take

The best literature is always a take [in the musical sense]; there is an implicit risk in its execution, a margin of danger that is the pleasure of the flight, of the love, carrying with it a tangible loss but also a total engagement that, on another level, lends the theater its unparalleled imperfection faced with the perfection of film. I don’t want to write anything but takes.

JULIO CORTÁZAR

Friday
Dec252015

It Is People's Secrets We Want to Know

God preserve us from writers who regurgitate what they have learnt from books! It is people’s secrets we want to know -- it is the natural history of the human heart that we have been trying to put down for a thousand years and everyone must and can leave their contribution.

AUGUST STRINDBERG

Thursday
Dec242015

You Can A Drive A Wedge In All Poetry

You can drive a wedge in all poetry. On one side are poems that sound like people talking, on the other are ones that look like people writing. My preference is the former. I’m always listening for someone to talk to me.

BILLY COLLINS

Wednesday
Dec232015

Writers Must Fortify Themselves with Pride and Egotism

Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name.

BRIAN ALDISS

Tuesday
Dec222015

Plot Cannot Be Mechanical

Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do.

RAY BRADBURY

Monday
Dec212015

Works in Progress

There is neither a proportional relationship, nor an inverse one, between a writer’s estimation of a work in progress and its actual quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, and the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.

ANNIE DILLARD

Sunday
Dec202015

Nothing Is Original

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.”

JIM JARMUSCH

Saturday
Dec192015

The Only Thing That Makes One An Artist Is Making Art

The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.

DAVID RAKOFF

Friday
Dec182015

Don't Be Pretentious

“Don't be pretentious” is my first advice to young writers. This is the big problem — just because you're getting an MFA doesn't mean you have to write for the Academy. Be true to your personality. Don't temper your personality down with words. Don't build defensive fortresses around yourself with words — words are your friends.

GARY SHTEYNGART

Thursday
Dec172015

Change Things If Somebody Else Is Right

You have the right to not change anything, but don’t be a fool. Change things if somebody else is right. But if you do change something because somebody else is right, you must instantly take credit for it yourself. That’s very important.

EDWARD ALBEE

Wednesday
Dec162015

Don't Make Stuff Because You Want to Make Money

Every single day, I get emails from aspiring writers asking my advice about how to become a writer, and here is the only advice I can give: Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.

JOHN GREEN

Tuesday
Dec152015

Publish To Be Read

I publish to be read. It’s the only thing that interests me about publication. So I employ all the strategies I know to capture the reader’s attention, stimulate curiosity, make the page as dense as possible and as easy as possible to turn. But once I have the reader’s attention I feel it is my right to pull it in whichever direction I choose. I don’t think the reader should be indulged as a consumer, because he isn’t one. Literature that indulges the tastes of the reader is a degraded literature. My goal is to disappoint the usual expectations and inspire new ones.

ELENA FERRANTE

Monday
Dec142015

Overcome Self-Criticism

I always write a draft version of the novel in which I try to develop, not the story, not the plot, but the possibilities of the plot. I write without thinking much, trying to overcome all kinds of self-criticism, without stopping, without giving any consideration to the style or structure of the novel, only putting down on paper everything that can be used as raw material, very crude material for later development in the story.

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA

Sunday
Dec132015

It Is A Delicious Thing To Write

It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes.

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

Saturday
Dec122015

Golden Rules for Screenwriters by Joe Eszterhas

1. Don’t see too many new movies. Most movies in theaters today are awful. They will depress you. You will think to yourself: How can they have made this abominable script instead of buying and making mine? Spare yourself the anguish. Read a good book instead.

2. Don’t mince words. If the idea a studio executive gives you is a shitty one, don’t say “Well, that’s interesting, but…” Say “That’s a really shitty idea.” The people you’re dealing with aren’t stupid—they’re just vain. Deep in their hearts they know it’s a shitty idea.

3. Don’t let ’em convince you to change what you’ve written. A director isn’t a writer. Neither is a producer or a studio exec. You write for a living. You’re the pro. They’re amateurs. Dilettantes at best. Treat them that way. Make them feel that’s what they are.

4. Don’t pitch stories, write spec scripts. Why try to convince a roomful of unread egomaniacs that you can write a good script about something. Just sit down and write the damn thing. It’s much more honest to do it well than to promise to do it well.

5. Write it from your heart. Life is short; shorter than you think. Don’t do hack work. If a studio wants to give you an assignment to write something, do it only if it rings spiritual, psychic or sexual bells inside you.

6. Always lie about your first draft. I told people I’d been working on the script of Basic Instinct for years when I sold it for a record price. When the movie became the biggest hit of 1992, I told the truth: It had taken me 13 days to write it.

7. Remember family secrets. If you’re stuck for something to write about, think of all those things your family just doesn’t talk about. Somewhere in there lurks at least one good script.

8. In the company of the director, don’t bend over. No matter how charming he is, the director is not your friend and collaborator. He is your enemy. He wants to impose his creative vision on yours. He wants to take what you’ve written and make it his and then take credit for it.

9. Blacken your heart a little bit. My old and beloved agent, Guy McElwaine, told me “There is no heart as black as the black heart of an agent.” Even though he’d been my agent for a long time—and even though I truly loved him—the day came when I fired him.

10. Don’t let the bastards get you down. If you can’t sell your script, or if you sell the script and they bring in another writer to butcher it, or if the director claims in interviews that he really wrote your script, or if the actors claim that they improvised all of your best lines, or if you’re left out of the press junket, simply sit down and write another script. And if the same thing happens to you on that one, write another and another and another and another, until you get one up there that’s your vision translated by the director to the big screen.

Friday
Dec112015

All Drama Is Conflict

All drama is conflict. Without conflict, there is no action. Without action, there is no character. Without character, there is no story. And without story, there is no screenplay.

SYD FIELD

Thursday
Dec102015

The Work Of Any Great Artist Is Directed At the Heart

The work of any great artist is directed at the heart, the spirit and the soul, not the brain. Critics feel with their brains, they probably fuck with their brains too. But the worst part is they fill their brainy shit into you and then we’re all made to feel we have to analyze literary works based on all this brainy shittage. No, if you feel Beckett, you see something else: that his writing evokes a sort of sacred chaos, a blissful holiday for the brain and a profoundly pleasurable call to the spirit.

AMITA MUKERJEE