For this day, again, you give yourself a chance to discover worthy things. Nothing stupendous may occur… but if you do not bring yourself to this point, nothing stupendous will happen for sure… and you will spend the balance of your day in blind reaction to the imperatives of the outer world — worn down, buffeted, diminished, martyred.
If you want to find out something you go to source. If you want to know what a man serving life for murder is like, call your nearest prison and register as a visitor … That’s what’s so exciting as a writer, if you put yourself out there, you come home with the goodies
Joel Edgerton’s adaptation of Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir Boy Erased is likely going to bring the tragedy of Christian forced-conversion “therapy” of young gay women and men into the mainstream.
It wouldn’t be fair to call Boy Erased an Afterschool Special. There’s a lot in here that ABC wouldn’t have touched in its run from 1972 to 1997. The true story of a young man sent by his religious parents to a conversion-therapy center that they hope will “cure” him of his homosexuality is presented in a forthright manner. There’s ugliness here that the mostly happy ending cannot wash away, and doesn’t try to…
Here’s the trailer:
When Georges Simenon was starting out as a newspaper writer and later a factory for churning out pulp fiction in Paris in the 1920s, he had higher ambitions. So he went to ask for advice from Colette, one of the reigning doyennes of French (and world) literature.
Colette, whose early writings had been produced under her husband’s name and had to fight for every scrap of financial and critical success she ultimately won, had some tart words for the young pulpist:
She told him to stop trying to be literary, and Mr. Simenon would later say it was the best piece of writing advice he ever got.
By the time Simenon passed away in 1989, he had produced 220 novels under his own name, plus another couple hundred under pseudonyms, and over a thousand short stories.
His method was monastic when required:
When he worked he hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door and often wrote round-the-clock. Once finished, Mr. Simenon put his manuscript away for a few days, then took it out, revised it briefly and sent it to his editor. He never read any of his books once they had been published.
Also, Simenon wasn’t just prolific, he was wildly successful, selling something like half a billion copies worldwide.
Sometimes refusing to worry about how your work is perceived is the best thing you can do.
LeVar Burton, who taught–and continues to teach–generations of kids and adults about the importance of literacy through Reading Rainbow and now LeVar Burton Reads, had something to tell Vice about certain celebrities who proudly proclaim their ignorance of books:
I got something to say about those people like Donald Trump and Kanye West who self profess themselves as non-readers … I ain’t got time for anyone like that anymore. I ain’t got time for the Kaynes or the Trumps who don’t read … Go somewhere else with that nonsense and take that bullshit someplace else. For as long as people like that will continue to publicly profess this idea to a generation of people, I’ll be standing here for literature until my very last breath. I repeat, until my last very dying breath. I’ll stand for it always in the living world. That’s where I’m at right now as far as those two and anyone like them.
Even in fiction, when we’re writing, we are often reliving something something we already experienced. A thought, a view, a conversation, a stab of pain or shiver of beauty.
Part of the reason writers do that is simple: Fuel for the engine. But sometimes we write about an experience in order to go through it again, to remember what it felt like, get it down on paper, and let it some extent, live forever.
We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render it all eternal…
In the newest movie from Korean director Lee Chang-dong, a stunted writer gets tangled up in a Great Gatsby-esque love triangle with a manic dreamer of a woman and a mysteriously quiet man of means.
Burning is opening this week in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International.
Here’s the trailer: