“Fiction is like listening to someone’s heartbeat through a stethoscope. Memoir is like open-heart surgery and holding someone’s heart in your hands.”
“I find writing nonfiction difficult; it feels like pulling teeth. It’s technically and logistically challenging and emotionally draining, and the whole time you have one hand behind your back. I admire folks who write good nonfiction so much, because I’ve seen firsthand how hard it is to make it work and work well.”
“I feel like you could write about a family forever and never run out of conflict or love or hurt feelings.”
“I want to turn metrophobes (people with a fear of poetry) into metromaniacs.”
Learn about the best-selling novelist’s writing process.
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The author of “Good Riddance,” and “Then She Found Me,” discusses how she creates dialogue, compelling storylines, and more insight into her writing style.
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The award-winning writer discusses her writing rules, going from short stories to novels, taxidermy, and more.
“I’m interested in coaching, modeling, and teaching various writing practices and less in discovering talent.”
“I never thought: I want to write a book about West Virginia. It’s just where my fiction comes from – a natural extension.”
Jaime Primak Sullivan discusses writing her memoir “The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie,” and more in this interview.
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“I try to keep an ear out when I’m in the world and on the page for how the rhythm and pattern of speech can feel as true to life as possible.”
“I think poetry is available to anybody who wants it – you have to apprentice yourself at some level.”
“It was almost 30 years of being a journalist until I felt comfortable pitching books.”
“When I started writing, it was a way to understand my own adolescence, and what came out was a revelation about my own teenage years.”
“In all my work, the things I’m invested in are empathy and compassion and trying to put human experiences on the page that I haven’t read before.”
“All writing is founded in memory, no matter what kind.”
“I could write 30 pages of how a character meets another character and not wind up using any of it, but I’ll get to know that character. No writing is wasted.”
“I start with a block of words that I carve and carve and carve until I find the simplest and most powerful way to move the narrative along.”
“What I wrote was deeply triggering for me, but I couldn’t arrive at the place I am now if I didn’t see on the page what happened to me.”
“What I am at my core is a journalist and a reporter, and I’ve always been drawn to stories that require a lot of reporting and research.”
“What compels me are the books that can seamlessly balance humor with sadness. I think each sharpens the other.”
“I am a character-driven writer, and I believe that once you define a character, they tell their story.”
“It’s also a mysterious and sometimes maddening place to me, especially in recent years, with the state’s political shift toward bombast and bigotry.”
“I really think for many of us, poetry chooses us.”
“To me, all my books are about human nature.”
“It’s important to write about things that matter to you and scare you.”
“Craft and technique can sustain and improve the drive to tell a story.”
Tips for finding your flow.
“I’ve never had much luck trying to please a specific audience. I write for myself, in the hope that enough people will be interested and amused by the same things that interest and amuse me.”
This poet’s art has been largely inspired by his work in prisons.
“In my everyday life, I’m pretty private and reserved, so the hardest part was taking personal emotion and putting it on the page. “
“I tend to see the world through a humor lens. I use it as a defense mechanism. That may be a personality flaw, but it makes me the writer I am.”
“Writers are inspired when they are in the company of other writers; the energy and enthusiasm makes them want to go home and write.”
“If I’m just writing jokes, that’s not very gratifying. I want to find human truths. “
“The reader reads for dialogue more than anything. The writer’s habit is to describe, but the reader would rather hear the character.”
The writer has gained much attention and praise for her short story collection, Night at the Fiestas.
“When there is violence in my work, the goal is not to titillate but to reveal character. It reveals the mask of that person, and we see who he or she really is when that mask is dropped.”
“The key to nailing the YA voice is remembering that teens aren’t the aliens we so often make them out to be.”
“I see my stories like explosions. They come from the gut and come out short.”
“I don’t ever see any character as 100 percent good or 100 percent evil.”
“There’s no better teacher than reading and reading and reading. Find a story you love, take it apart, reassemble, and look at the way it’s put together.”
“No outside pressure could live up to the pressure I’ve always put on myself as a writer.”
“I grew to love the challenges and rewards of the short story – the way you have to be precise and condensed and make every word count.”
“My job is to jump through that empathic window and report on the human condition. Period.”
“Once you have a good story, the science will take care of itself.”