What’s more exciting than receiving a cornucopia of wisdom from widely admired writers? Recent, Flavorwire rounded up sage advice dispensed by 30 authors to newly minted college grads at their commencements. Here are a handful of inspiring thoughts to energize and embolden us:
“Lots of people, when they first start writing, write about themselves. But I’m going to be blunt: You’re not as interesting as you think you are. And even if you’ve had an unusual life, a difficult life, a shocking life, it’s not easy to write about it well. We seem to have little perspective on ourselves and what will be appealing to others. That’s partly why I moved into writing historical novels — it takes me away from my self, so that you don’t have to read about me. Writing about places and times I know nothing about has gotten me interested in all kinds of strange things. In the name of research I’ve gone fossil hunting, given tours in a Victorian cemetery, learned to quilt. I’ve handled priceless medieval tapestries and held the original notebook William Blake drafted Songs of Innocence and of Experience in.”
Tracy Chevalier, Oberlin College, 2013
“And I understood then that he had given me a reason to write fiction that was better than anything I was really coming up with, beyond just fulfilling my own need and desire to do it: Because it creates empathy. Most people, unfortunately, tend to go through the world maintaining their separation from others, more or less preserving that. But when we read fiction, we participate intimately in other people’s lives. In their sufferings and ecstasies, in all the ways their lives fall apart and are shattered and are put back together again. And if their experience is different from ours, all the better.”
Sue Monk Kidd, Scripps College, 2010
“Leave the TV alone, don’t get on the Internet too much because there’s a lot of crap there — it’s mainly male, macho crap. We men like to play with toys. You get yourself a good typewriter, go to the library-live there. Live in the library. See, I didn’t go to school, but I went to the library. And I’ve stayed there for the last 50 years or so. When I was in my 40′s, I had no money for an office. I was wandering around UCLA one day, 35 years ago, and I heard typing down below-in the basement of the library. And I went down to see what was going on. I found there was a typing room down there. And for 10 cents for a half an hour, I could rent a typewriter. I said, ‘My God. This is great! I don’t have an office. I’ll move in here with a bunch of students. And I’ll write!’ So, I got a bag full of dimes, and in the next nine days — I spent $9.80 — and I wrote Fahrenheit 451.”
Ray Bradbury, Caltech, 2000
I just love Ray’s dime-store novel story, don’t you? Write on!