writing advice

“…[Y]ou’ll never become the writer you want to become. You’ll never be satisfied, never really know if you are any good. You’ll never be certain.”—from a 1998 letter by Dean Young to his nephew, the writer Seth Pollins. The entire thing is here, and it’s well worth reading. (Worth relinking to this open letter from Tony Hoagland about Dean’s current medical problems, I think.)


When my horse is running good, I don’t stop to give him sugar.

What does Faulkner mean? Does it mean he loved horses and put them everywhere in his work? Or maybe it means your writer and your editor should be far away, divorced, like badly divorced (is there another way?)—like not even in the same city anymore. Writer is writing, editor don’t come around with sugar cubes, don’t come around at all, until later, when the draft is in the stable, then bust out the brush, mane conditioner, and oats. Like maybe you should wait an hour, a day, or maybe even just a dinner before you go and look at a fresh draft…Or, maybe that is not what is meant at all. Maybe Faulkner is saying the working writer doesn’t need sugar, ever. Write to write. Maybe most working writers should be like Woody Allen, a man who has never seen–outside of the editing room–any of his own films. Let’s forget the sugar. When you are “running good” don’t fuck with it, period. Don’t make coffee, don’t surf the net. Don’t even feel excited (a form of sugar). Just run. Run, run, run, until it’s not so good. Maybe?

Random / 7 Comments
October 13th, 2010 / 4:33 pm

Ray Lewis on Writing

If you’re trying to please the world, you’re going to confuse yourself.

The only danger is writing a check you can’t cash.

It don’t matter about me.

I monitor, sort of watch, some people.

Like some people aren’t happy with their job or their wife, they say it. That’s all it was, him voicing his opinion. He has a right to do that.

You know, consistency is everything.

But we don’t need no hope. Y’all can keep your hope because we’ve got enough hope over here. We’re packing our bags, and we’re not packing our bags to come play water polo.

You know that you’re pretty much in serious trouble.

Honestly. I don’t know what’s going on over there.

That’s what I want to get back to, just having fun and letting them deal with me.

All you can do is move on, live on. … Don’t let nobody pull you back into it, don’t let nobody make you keep talking about it.

We’ve heard it all week.

Once it’s done, it’s done.

Random / 11 Comments
September 29th, 2010 / 11:19 pm

Dee Dee Ramone on Writing

Dee Dee Ramone was the first man with a woman’s name to be like, “Fuck your necktie and your mom’s gurney.” Dee Dee Ramone had the impact of keeping hand grenades in your car’s cup holders. The man was a retaining wall and a fuck-load cooler than we. He was so beautiful he had to kill that beauty, as we know the world must work. Or not work.

“I have no doubts in my mind where my loyalties are. They’re with myself. I’m all I’ve got.”

“I like dragons so much that I tried to look for one outside the window of the plane that I’m in now.”

“My only degree is in streetology.”

“Today I was wondering what God was going to do with me now.”

“I’m not a punk, skin, Nazi, or snob. I’m defiant. I’m angry. You made me that way. So fuck you all.”

“Dragons…Imagine one flying over one of the meadows, high above New York City’s Central Park, one crowded Sunday afternoon.”

“We all paid a price for it. It was a lot.”

“I can’t rap too well.”

“I would like to thank myself, and congratulate myself, and if I could, I would pat myself on the back.”

“I spotted a dragon immediately.”

Craft Notes / 22 Comments
December 29th, 2009 / 3:51 pm