And here, the biggest lesson of them all, and a summation of all the problems.

You are in the way of your story.

Hard truth: writing is actually not that important.

Writing is a mechanism.

It’s an inelegant middleman to what we do. It’s a shame, in some ways, that we even call ourselves writers, because it describes only the mechanical act of what we do. It’s a vital mechanism, sure, but by describing it as the prominent thing, it tends to suggest, well, prominence.

But our writing must serve story.

Story does not serve writing.

This is cart-before-horse stuff, but important to realize.

Listen, in what we do there exist three essential participants.

We have:

The tale, the teller of the tale, and the listener of the tale.

Story. Author. And audience.

That’s it.

You are two-thirds of that equation. You are the story (or, by proxy, its architect) and the teller of the story. The telling of the story is most often done through writing — through that mechanical act, and because it’s the act you can sit and watch, it’s the one that is used to describe our role. I AM WRITER, you say, and so you focus so much on the actual writing you forget that there’s this other invisible — but altogether more critical — part, which is what you’re writing.

So, what happens is, early on, you put so much on the page. You write and write and write and use too many words and too much exposition and big meaty paragraphs and at the end all it serves to do is create distance between the tale and the listener of the tale.

It keeps the audience at arm’s length.

Quit that shit.

Bring the audience into the story. This is at the heart of show, don’t tell — which is a rule that can and should be broken at times, but at its core remains a reasonable notion: don’t talk at, don’t preach, don’t lecture, don’t fill their time with unnecessary wordsmithy.

Get. To. The. Point.

Chuck Wendig, Five Common Problems I See in Your Stories (via vickiexz)
Whenever I am asked to talk American Psycho, I have to remember why I was writing it at the time and what it meant to me. A lot of it had to do with my frustration with having to become an adult and what it meant to be an adult male in American society. I didn’t want to be one, because all it was about was status. Consumerist success was really the embodiment of what it meant to be a cool guy—money, trophy girlfriends, nice clothes, and cool cars. It all seemed extremely shallow to me.
Bret Easton Ellis from a 2011 interview with Publishers Weekly (via publishersweekly)

bookpeopleaustin:

"McCracken’s writing is dark and weirdly funny, exploring the fragility of people and communities." Awesome to see Thunderstruck and Other Stories by Austinite Elizabeth McCracken on The New Yorker’s list of books to look out for in April. 

We’re excited to have this book on our shelves later this month (4/22). Julie read it and has this to say: “McCracken explores the unexpected avenues of loss in this absorbing new collection. What I love about McCracken is knowing that the characters I meet on her pages will never be typical. I come again and again to the little girl dressed as Patrick Henry; a room full of budgies to replace a prodigal son; the emotional terrain of traumatized librarians. The ways we deal with absence are at the heart of each story and its haunting characters. McCracken’s humor brings levity to this unique, memorable collection.”

McCracken reads from and signs her collection here 4/22.

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