Okay folks, as promised, here’s a little more for you on the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop ~ namely, my favorite lines, quotes and anecdotes (written in Workshop schedule chronological order only–no favoritism is represented here).
* “The lover is the writer, the reader is the beloved.” – Brenda Shaughnessy, poet
* ‘The essence of the person lies mystically in the name.’ – roughly quoted from B.S.
* “If you are afraid of something or running away from something–that’s what you should be writing about” – B.S.
* Establish your writerly self as a person with “good taste” that the reader will want to follow/partake of. The reader is trying to improve him/herself by their association with the authors they read. Don’t let your readers down. – taken from workshop discussion with Walter Kirn
* “I like to think about prose as an athletic event.” – W.K. re: choosing which style of prose you’re most talented in, and “competing” in that style.
* Manuscripts mustbe as polished as possible before submitting to literary agents or editors–this represents you taking yourself seriously as a writer. (Taken from panel discussion with Denise Shannon, Bonnie Nadell, Besty Lerner and Julie Barer)
*”Obsession fills our spiritual need.” – Steve Almond
* There are moments in your life that snag your attention. Don’t over analyze why you can’t let go of those moments. Just honor your attention toward/obsession with those moments and write about them. (take from lecture: Obsession A New Musk by Steve Almond
*”How does the thin-skinned writer become a thick-skinned author?” – Literary Agent, Betsy Lerner in her lecture on Query Letters to Agents
* “Endings are just beginnings returned in new form.” – Walter Kirn
* “Foreshadowing is the promise the reader will be told a story.” – W.K.
* “Be true to your trance.” – W.K. discussing the “zone we, as writers do and must get into for effective writing.
* “Editing is a cost-benefit analysis.” – Keith Lee Morris
* “Beginnings are shadows that are cast across the entire story.” – Walter Kirn
* “A beginning is an act of bravado.” – W.K.
* “The beginning has to do more than anything else in the book…accept, maybe, the end.” – W.K.
* If dialog feels like it’s coming out poorly onto the page, perhaps it’s because you don’t know your characters well enough. (take from lecture by Keith Lee Morris on writing dialog.
*”Memoir rightly belongs to the imaginative world because it is a product of memory–it becomes a creation of the mind.” – David Shields
* “Great art is an analysis of mixed feelings.’ – D.S.
* The only thing worse than boredom is fear of boredom. Omission is a form of creation.” – D.S.
* Good characters are not “built,” they are “revealed.” – from Bret Anthony Johnston’s lecture on Writing Exercises – Character.
* The fewer the characters…the easier the story becomes to write. A narrative is like climbing a steep mountain while wearing a backpack…each additional character adds to the weight of the pack. (taken from above-referenced lecture by B.A.J.)
* “Never ask a reader to do more work than you [the author] are willing to do.” – B.A.J.
* Johnston’s assessment of good vs. bad characters:
Good characters are 51% good and 49% bad. Bad characters are 51% bad and 49% good.
* The writer’s job, according to B.A.J.: “Make the reader want something and then make them wait for it [via narrative arc obstacles, etc.]”
A room once occupied: now empty.
A house once full: vacant.
Soap suds pop. Bubbles drain.
From discomfort comes ill-ease.
From ill-ease: dis-ease.
Dis-ease precedes disease
and from that: personal growth.
Thus is the experience of communcal bathing.
Thank you Tin House!!!