Thank God for Youtube. When I need inspiration (or when I’m putting off the real work), I plunge into the deeps of the Youtube multi-verse.
My favorite thing is to watch old Charlie Rose interviews. Especially when he talks with authors. Back in the 90’s, the conversations are markedly slower. There are longer pauses between phrases. It’s OK if there’s a few seconds of silence between the interviewer and the interviewee. I appreciate that pace and thoughtfulness.
Anyway, here are a few golden nuggets that I recently caught in my Youtube sifter:
Marin Amis says writing is a “campaign against cliches”.
Malcolm Gladwell says it’s human nature to be exclusive, and to limit your input. But as a writer your job is to think the opposite way. Your job is to think that EVERYTHING is interesting. You have to explore all angles and search everywhere for quality.
Jonathan Franzen says that the goal of the writer is to tell a good story. The writer is not concerned with social protest or even getting a message across. If those things happen, OK, but the one and only goal is to tell a story.
Phillip Pullman (Golden Compass Series) says that his goal is to write 1,000 words per day; it may take him all day or maybe just a couple of hours, but then he’s done for the day.
David Foster Wallace, in his Charlie Rose interview, says “isn’t reading fun!”. Try and remember being a kid and curling up with a book on your bed while it was raining outside. It was a joy. It was an exchange between two consciousnesses. And the author speaks on subjects that you can’t normally talk about in your everyday life.
Norman Mailer says that, as a writer, you have to find a narrator. And the narrator definitely can’t be YOU, because your ego gets in the way and complicates everything. But once you find a good narrator, one that you’re comfortable with, then you can really start to go places.
And finally, here is George R.R.Martin talking about Lord of the Rings:
(This is me paraphrasing his words from an interview with Rolling Stone )
“As I read Return of the King, I didn’t want it to be over. That last book blew my mind, particularly the scouring of the Shire. I didn’t like that when I was in high school. The story’s over, and they destroyed the ring — but he didn’t write “and now they lived happily ever after.” Instead, they went home and home was all fucked up. The evil guys had burned down some of the woods; a fascist-like tyranny had taken over. That seemed anticlimactic to me. Frodo didn’t live happily ever after or marry a nice girl hobbit. He was permanently wounded; he was damaged. As a 13 year old, I couldn’t grasp that. Now, every time I re-read The Lord of the Rings — which I do, every few years — I appreciate the brilliance of the scouring of the Shire. That’s part of what lifts the book from all its imitators. There was a real cost to Tolkien’s world. There’s a tremendous sadness at the end of Lord of the Rings, and it has a power. I think that’s partly why people are still reading and re-reading these books.