Because You Have To
A Writing Life
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
Preface: Against All Odds
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We live in a fast-forward world.
Media’s avalanched our eyes and ears and, too often, our hearts. Speed and glitter, serving big profit, reshape our perception of the . . .
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Sincere thanks to Robert Bly, Baron Wormser, and Thaisa Frank (no relation) for permission to quote from their writings and . . .
Madness in Method
Getting It Down
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Few things have become harder to do at our moment of the new
century, I think, than to think.
By thinking, I mean to sink, at a deliberate and comfortable . . .
Writing from the Body
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Presuming here shares the stage with making presumptions about sex. Unless one’s a doctor or has just had a heart attack, one doesn’t tell other people what to do with their own bodies . . .
Spit and Band-Aids: The Business of Art
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Recently mulling over the boxes and files of correspondence I’ve kept over the years, printed faxes or e-mails with my late best friend—a body of work that far outstrips that of any encyclopedia . . .
The Stillness of Sleeping Birds
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In her enchanting book of meditations on the act of reading, Ruined by Reading, author Lynne Sharon Schwartz describes, among reading’s many mysterious pleasures, the option of sitting . . .
Be Careful Whom You Tell
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It is very tempting—and for one or two seconds, deeply
to tell people you are a writer.
In the next beat, you may be very sorry you uttered a word. . . .
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1. There is never enough. There is always just barely enough. . . .
When It Is Good
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A thoughtful friend has suggested I cite some of the ways in which the calling of writing makes one happy—so as to ward off suppositions (logical enough) that the work brings constant . . .
Psychic Inroads, Scenic Routes, Culs-de-Sac
Writers' Networks, Writers' Lives
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A friend embarking on a first novel and, in her words, “trying to
be professional” was peppering me with questions.
How did I view the work of my writing friends and they mine? . . .
For My Brothers and Sisters in the Rejection Business
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Rejection is democratic, and protean. It snarls straight out of the gate at the most innocent, and when we are young (at least, developmentally young), it can devastate us. I remember being told by . . .
The Impenetrable Phenomenon
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When I was a little girl, my father would occasionally go on long trips whose purposes and particulars felt mysterious. They seemed to occur just beyond my view in a dimension yet . . .
The Vastness of Geologic Time
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Here’s a non-secret: almost all writers of literary fiction feel hard done by at some point. Almost no one speaks of it publicly. It’s understood to be bad form, bad energy. It stamps the complainer . . .
The More We Typed, the Better We Felt
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Damn, damn, damn, damn.
I wrote a letter to the New York Times. And then, Lord help me, I sent it.
In the past I’ve managed enough self-control to write the . . .
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How happy I am to be able to say it: I loved Frank McCourt.
(Hand placed over heart.) May his work endure and remain beloved.
I never knew him personally—wish I’d been so lucky. But I
Gumby, Frankenstein, Jakob, Rosamund
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The word character abrades me, though there’s never been a good alternative to it. For me the word’s sound, read or spoken, reduces its image to something flat and cartoonish, Gumby-like . . .
A Booth in the Marketplace
Striking a Bargain: Marketing
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Once you’ve made your work, however long that may take, the moment arrives when you have to offer it up to the world. It’s the completion of the original gesture, the logical parturition. Like any passage, . . .
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I am seated on the living room carpet with a beer beside my best friend, who is also an author, trading news of writerly struggles. Odds are long; the fiction . . .
Underwhelmed and Eccentric
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Though the love of earnest literature and all it stands for appears to shrink daily, giving way instead to a kind of homogenized sludge of recipes, travelogues, horror serialists and the like, all . . .
A Hand in the Game: Reviewing
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Plenty of writers make a point of exempting themselves (perhaps
recusing is the better word) from reviewing other writers’ work.
I understand this.
Enough with the Change and Growth
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So pronounced a famous reviewer, in a famous American newspaper’s book review section a few years ago, assessing a new novel by a respected . . .
Imposed Yet Familiar
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Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman bemoaned, years ago, what was then seen as a sort of national literary rash: the Invasion of the . . .
If You Really Want to Hear About It
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In my alternate life as a book reviewer, I come across a practice
that’s more and more pervasive, and it happens like this:
A first novel by a very bright, up-and-coming young author
In Search of Heated Agreement
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We were wolfing Greek olives and crackers, preludes to the good dinner she and her husband were preparing, when a friend announced to . . .
Love of Three Oranges
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What does it mean to declare oneself a member of the shapeshifting,
embattled fraternity of artists?
What does being an artist truly mean or require?
To some, the definition’s clear-cut. You do your art . . .
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This section includes source information for quotes and paraphrases that did not have the source information included with the quote or paraphrase in the text. Thaisa Frank’s quotes are . . .
Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2012