As a fellow interview lover, Joe has been writing the column By Heart for the Atlantic long enough to amass a who's who of interview subjects. You know, people like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Elizabeth Strout, Michael Chabon, Emma Donoghue, Mary Gaitskill... the list goes on. His topic? What piece of writing inspired you enough that you read it over and over and practically memorized it because it had such an impact on your life. Writers + book talk? Total heaven. And his new book, Light the Dark, assembles his favorite interviews on this topic.
Not only do I recommend that you listen, I think that anyone wanting to write will adore this book. So many wise words on the process of writing and what makes a piece of writing meaningful. I can't wait for all of you to listen to this one, and to check out Light the Dark.
How is that possible? We gather images over time, trying to figure out how they fit together. Paul had pieces of a story that didn't quite fit until suddenly, they did. And then the story came out almost all at once in a single sitting. How do you know when it's time to write a story? And how do you know when to give up on an idea? These are questions that have plagued so many writers and my clients. Paul was the perfect person to discuss them with. Having written fiction, theater, comedy, and a writing teacher himself, Paul has a breadth of experience and a sensitivity to this topic that will blow you away. His debut novel, The Good Son won countless awards and becomes a favorite of everyone who reads it.
This conversation was both deep and funny, an incredible dive into the places where writing comes from and how to know when you've got a story that won't let you go. This promises to be one you'll listen to more than once. I have been waiting and waiting to share this one! I'm so glad it's time for you to hear it.
However, need and want are two different things. An MFA grad herself, Gabriela realized that many writers struggled with the dilemma of whether to MFA or not to MFA and took her own grad school experience and created a template so others could get all the benefit of the degree with none of the loans, debt and stress that can come along with going back to school. Gabriela is a wealth of information and was incredible generous in sharing that with us on this episode.
If you've ever wanted to take your writing seriously and pursue it with great focus, but believed you don't need to go back to school to become a "real" writer, this episode is going to feel like one giant permission slip. Happy listening and happy writing, for those of you who finish listening and realize you can start writing right now, degree or no degree.
There are many books out there that share life advice. There are whole sections in bookstores dedicated to this sort of book. But I have not encountered many where I am so willing to trust the advice of the author. It's often hard to imagine that a writer would relate to my life, or understand the particular thing I have been through and that we could connect.
Scott is an excellent antidote to this belief. His life experience, which includes his parents' murder, his brother's death from overdose, and belonging to a spiritual cult, has more than prepared him to share about the human experience. I loved reading Scott's book and talking to him because his insights on finding happiness felt so generous, given what he's had to overcome in order to find happiness in his life. We talk about how getting vulnerable and raw and specific about your life experience makes you more connected to the reader because the specific opens up to the universal. I love this as it is a lovely shift away from the fear many of us have: that if we write on one obscure topic no one else will understand. Scott is here to tell you that people will relate, and it's worth sharing the dark parts of your story as well as the warm fuzzy ones. I've been waiting to share this episode. I hope you enjoy listening.