Good Times

“…find a way to make it fun.”
George Saunders

An evening out with my writing buddies is always a welcome treat, especially when there’s a reading on the agenda. This time around, we went to hear George Saunders, the author of The 10th of December and a number of other highly regarded short-story collections. He chatted with the audience, read from one of his short stories, answered questions, and signed some books — all standard fare. And yet, hearing a writer speak about how he writes always seems fresh to me.

What struck me most about George is the enormous contrast between his seemingly easygoing persona and the struggling, almost-over-the-edge characters he writes about. His attitude toward writing is anything but angsty. Here are a few of his comments that we all might do well to take to heart:

“The whole writing thing is best approached as entertainment.”

“One useful barometer: is It fun and do you feel confident doing it?”

“I’ve never fought my way out of a story.”

“Most of my writing process s rereading what I’ve done and deciding if I really like it….If the needle goes down, I don’t panic. I ask the story what it wants, what’s wrong.”

“We all know all lives if we go deep enough. Writing is trusting the process…”and “development through line-to-line craft.

Listening to George, I was struck by the calm acceptance he radiated: It was almost Zen-like. I think he brings this same calm and warmth to the job of summoning up his characters. No matter how tortured or off-base they are, as a reader, you can feel his sympathy for them, his willing suspension of judgment about their decisions. This stance as a writer can be so powerful! It endows the story that unfolds with an inevitability and a sense of appropriateness that we as readers absorb and find satisfying — a feat that’s not easy to pull off. Write on, George!

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About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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