The fabulous new organization, Figment, interviewed me about what advice I would offer to a young writer. (Yes, the project is inspired by Rilke's "Letters To A Young Poet.") I was a little surprized at how much I had to say about life, love, writing, love of writing, and love of life. Here's a little sample, then run over there and see the rest--
Why must you write? What would you do if you weren’t a writer? (Or, what was the best job you had before becoming an author?) There are really two reasons that I write. That I write at all is for a selfish reason—it brings me great pleasure. When I have spent the day writing, I feel good about myself, like I am doing what I am meant to do and the thing I enjoy most. But the reason I write the stories I choose to write is more because I think that these stories are important, that there is something of value in knowing what happens to the people I write about. If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t be anything. People always tell me that this can’t be possible, but it is. It’s like asking me what I would be if I weren’t a person
. What two books do you find indispensable? Who has given you the greatest experience of the essence of creativity, its depths and eternity? Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks is the most important novel to me. This is the book that showed me that a novel about an ordinary woman living her ordinary life is art, is important and from that I decided that ordinary people are important, too. Just think how that opened up the “what to write about” questions. Stories are every where, you just have to be open to them. Another important book is a collection of poetry, Mercy by Lucille Clifton. The poems there slay me. She can cram the entire world into a three-sentence stanza.
Who has given me the greatest experience of the essence of creativity?Sadly, I don’t think that has happened to me yet, which is probably good, because after that, I suppose my journey would be over.