Writers Reading Writers

Not quite sure what it is that gives writers such rapt fascination with the lives and habits of other writers. That said, I’m certainly one with this affliction. And, it is not just writers I admire or who’s work I know. It is any writer. I love to read about their process, their workflow, their motivations, or their thoughts on the work of writing itself. In fact, I have long joked that the only things writers love more than writing about writing is reading other writers write about writing.

Writing is such a selfish, self-involved, and lonely business — fraught with fear and self-hatred. Perhaps, reading about others who share our struggle is the only place we feel we can truly find empathy. That in every other writer, and only in another writer, we see someone else who gets it. Who understands. We are not so alone after all.

With this premise laid, here are some recent writings about and by writers that I have enjoyed. Hopefully you will find these valuable too.

On Writing in the Morning : The New Yorker

On a good day, I’m caught up by something larger than myself, held in the light by some celestial movement. For a brief charged time I may be irradiated, able to cast a shadow version of something I only imagine. The shadow will never be the bright true self that I know exists, but it will be as precise as I can make it, as real, as sharp, as beautiful. I will cast this shadow into the air, where it may never be seen, or where it may be seen at a great distance, and only by one person, someone I will never know. The point is to cast the shadow out into the air.

George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year – NYTimes.com

You could call this desire — to really have that awareness, to be as open as possible, all the time, to beauty and cruelty and stupid human fallibility and unexpected grace — the George Saunders Experiment. It’s the trope of all tropes to say that a writer is “the writer for our time.” Still, if we were to define “our time” as a historical moment in which the country we live in is dropping bombs on people about whose lives we have the most abstracted and unnuanced ideas, and who have the most distorted notions of ours; or a time in which some of us are desperate simply for a job that would lead to the ability to purchase a few things that would make our kids happy and result in an uptick in self- and family esteem; or even just a time when a portion of the population occasionally feels scared out of its wits for reasons that are hard to name, or overcome with emotion when we see our children asleep, or happy when we risk revealing ourselves to someone and they respond with kindness — if we define “our time” in these ways, then George Saunders is the writer for our time.

Seth’s Blog: “Here, I made this,” is difficult and frightening

Your art is vitally important, and what makes it art is that it is personal, important and fraught with the whiff of failure. This is precisely why it’s scarce and thus valuable—it’s difficult to stand up and own it and say, “here, I made this.” For me, anyway, writing a book is far easier than handing it to someone I care about and asking them to read it.

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