This was Sarah Schulman’s wall post on Facebook this morning
Sarah Schulman: “In honor of the Lambdas I invite my fellow scribes to add to my list of writing tips:
1. Writers are people who write.
2. Grapple with something that matters.
3. The discovery is in the writing, if you already know everything there is no point in writing it.
4. Writing a book is hard. It takes a long time, many drafts and doesn’t conform to your timeline.
5. The materials facilitate experimentation, doing entire drafts in 3rd person and then shifting back to first, side writing and trying radically different styles, voices and structures (See I, THE DIVINE by Rabih Alameddine) is demanded because you can’t “ruin” it, like a painting. It’s just paper.
6. The underlying principle of fiction is that people do things for reasons. Looking at causes instead of consequences is at the root of understanding character. Knowing your folks objectively- seeing their pain, motives, conflicts is an act of compassion. Seeing a person complexly is love, not an attack.
7. Form should come organically from the emotions at the core of the piece.
8. Fiction writers face what it is to be alive in a way that is troubling but produces revelation. It’s work that many others don’t want to do. This ultimately separates you and produces a special kind of loneliness, sometimes persecution. More writing deepens the understanding which deepens the gulf. Go with it, there is an interior pay-off that eventually overwhelms the alienation. In the world there are those who want to understand and those who refuse.
9. If the people around you don’t privilege your writing time (by playing music in the morning, making you clean up after them, asking you to babysit, asking you to drop everything to write their recommendation, asking you to drive them at 6 am to get their visa, whatever…) You have to make a choice between asking other people to adjust so that you can have your real life vs. being considered “nurturing” or “good.” Does your value exist only in relation to how you serve others?
10. On the other hand, writers need to be able to support themselves financially, work for a living, contribute to their communities, do their chores and be part of the apparatus of life. Being a writer doesn’t exempt you from the job of being responsible.
“If love is the answer, hold on.”
This is such a great, romantic song by Daft Punk. Its lyrics (“I remember touch”) even made its way into a new essay I’m writing on cinema in the 90s. The digital CAN be emotional.
P.S. I love that they are “notoriously shy”. The combination of fame and shyness has always interested me.
I often wonder if being shy, alone, slightly removed from things, is the answer to making real work. I think it is. By alone I don’t mean literally alone, I mean independent. More like the lyric to Bowie’s “Modern Love”: “I know when to go out / I know when to stay in / Get things done.
I know “facelessness,” masks and masking, is different for a man, who can afford to be nameless—“objective”—in his art and in his fame in a way that a woman can’t. Men can cover up up. A man’s name alone often counts for everything. A man is whole from the start, a woman is broken up from the start. In pieces. But how do we protect ourselves from corruption and creative/intellectual/emotional/spiritual dilution in commodity culture? In culture industry? Not exposing ourselves completely is one way. I wish more women, in search of feminist discourse and expression and radical subjectivity today, understood (wanted) this. Yes, we can’t afford to be silent, marginalized, invisible, but the world is not just gender or the exteriorization of interiority. It is also the monster machine/matrix of public and media that ruins and exhausts everyone/everything. After all, it’s not as if women don’t exclude each other, or align themselves with men in order to be more successful as women—both sexually and creatively. So why do I have to give it all away to be included, to be known, to be viable and relevant? Why does knowing and being known look like one thing now? Look the same. Awayness has lost its value. Immersion is everything. If you tell people “everything” about yourself, your life, does that mean that they know, like, understand you better? No. Not everyone recognizes honesty. Sometimes, most times, they think a lie is truth. I speak out, always—in life and in work—but I also hold things I want to protect close to my chest. I don’t want to be inside all the time, or inside of everything. I want a vantage point. I want distance. I want dialectical tension. I don’t give it away, not even in the name of “art.” I write about the relationship between gender, privacy, and male duos (Daft Punk consists of a famous male duo, the way Woodward and Bernstein were a famous duo) here.
Made in The USA, Godard
“The things we use do change us.”
-Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock
More from my new story, “Reel Men,” published in the new issue (#7) of The Coming Envelope: http://www.bookthug.ca/products.php?id=15
While the American Beats were interested in the story outside of the car, the story precipitated and accessed by the movement of the car on the road, by where the car takes you, brings you (the way a car comes up to/on something), the Iranian Abbas Kiarostami is interested in the story inside of the car. The car itself as story and narrative frame.