“‘Dear Lorin,’ the note read, ‘I saw this book and thought you might like it, even though it is full of despair.’”
Read more of what we’re loving this week, including Jean-Pierre Martinet’s 1979 mini-novella The High Life, The Morgan’s exhibition “Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art,” and Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic.
One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi,
another a tail of color-coded wires.
One was a blackbird stretching orchid wings,
another a flicker with a wounded head.
All flew like leaves fluttering to escape,
bright, circulating in burning air,
and all returned when the air cleared.
One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower,
deep in the ground, miles from water.
Everything is real and everything isn’t.
Some had names and some didn’t.
Named and nameless shapes of birds,
at night my hand can touch your feathers
and then I wipe the vernix from your wings,
you who have made bright things from shadows,
you who have crossed the distances to roost in me.
—Michael Collier - Birds appearing in a dream (via colourthysoul)
“It was night, and the rain fell; and falling, it was rain, but, having fallen, it was blood.”
- from “Silence - A Fable”
A story is most interesting to me as I’m writing it if I’m doing something strange with the time signature. I find that I’m the most dead and my writing is the most lifeless when I’m telling a story in a relatively conventional, chronological way. I think that in some ways a novelist’s raw material is time itself. What you do with it, how you compress some events or skip over them or take parts of the past and stretch them out so that they touch the future. I’m imagining a kind of malleable material. That’s what we’re messing around with most often.
When you are revising or looking at that draft, you know where the real wood is behind the fiberboard. You know when you hit something that feels real and true and that needs to be said, and then you go back and try to make everything feel like that, which is hard.
At some point when you start to write seriously and start to get published, you realize that the goal is to do as good a job as you can, not merely to get your work into print. Starting out, we all think as soon as a story is published in a magazine, it’s done—especially if it’s in a fancy magazine. If they took it, you know it’s good, because they’re so fancy! But you realize no editor is going to be as hard on your work as you have to be. They don’t have the time. They don’t want to put up with you that much.