“When was super depressed, I wasn’t working—I was always too depressed. Hemingway did his best work when he didn’t drink, then he drank himself to death and blew his head off with a shotgun. Someone asked John Cheever, “What’d you learn from Hemingway?” and he said “I learned not to blow my head off with a shotgun.” I remember going to the Michigan poetry festival, meeting Etheridge Knight there and Robert Creeley. Creeley was so drunk—he was reading and he only had one eye, of course, and had to hold his book like two inches from his face using his one good eye. But you look at somebody like George Saunders—I think he’s the best short story writer in English alive—that’s somebody who tries very hard to live a sane, alert life. You’re present when you’re not drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day. It’s probably better for your writing career, you know? I think being tortured as a virtue is a kind of antiquated sense of what it is to be an artist.”—
In an interview with The Fix, Mary Karr debunks the toxic mythology that it is necessary to be damaged in order to be creative. My own vehement defiance to that mythology is what led me to choose Ray Bradbury – the ultimate epitome of creating from joy rather than suffering – as the subject of my contribution to The New York Times’ The Lives They Lived.
Pair with Karr on why writers write.
“They never really tell you how the moon got all those deep bruises. The story goes that the sun saw her one night as he was leaving the sky. He was so taken by her silver face, so calm and beautiful, that he felt himself changed at just the sight of her. In a thoughtless trance, he picked up a few stones and threw them towards her in order to get her attention. But the sun was too strong, and the stones skipped over the black river of the sky and crashed into her with such a force that she fell back. After the stones settled, they began to spread large bruises across her face. The longer the stones stayed, the deeper the bruises got. The sun watched in horror as her face began to turn dark and patched with craters the size of the stones. He couldn’t make his way to her, for there was a barrier that kept them from ever touching. The moon cried, and the oceans swelled under her pain. Her face was no longer the smooth silver jewel it had once been. She looked across the sky and saw the deep orange sun with a stone still in his hand. She never asked him why he did it, and he could not get close enough to tell her that it was because he loved her. The bruises never faded, and neither did the moon’s sadness. The sun never forgave himself, so at the end of each day, when he saw the moon take her place, he turned deep orange before fading away. Some days, when they are both seen in the sky together, you can hear the sun trying to tell her that he is sorry, and that her bruises are beautiful.”—the sun threw stones and the moon wept
WRITING BUDDIES: THE APPLICATION
1. Copy/paste and fill out the below application, and submit it using our submit feature, that you may answer the questions without a character limit. Also copy/paste because I’m a little thick and I will go crazy trying to make sense of your answers if they’re smooshed together or without the questions.
2. We will be accepting applications for one week. That means the cutoff will be next Sunday (the second) at midnight. After that, it’ll take some time to pair you up, so please do be patient.
3. Be nice to your buddy. I know that you’re all sweethearts, but just be extra gentle when you’re getting to know each other, because writing can be a pretty personal thing. If they ASK you for honest harsh crit after you get to know each other, by all means, tear their work apart.
Your url: Handle, nickname, or name:
Describe what you like to write about.
Do you write poetry or prose?
Original fiction, nonfiction, fanfic, etc- what do you write?
Is there any kind of writing that you cannot stand?
What genre do you typically write in?
Is it important to you that a buddy would write similar stuff (ie., same genre, etc)?
Are there any triggers that feature prominently in your work?
Do you have any triggers that you would not like to read about?
What is your first language/list languages you are fluent in?
Is it important to you that your buddy speaks that language as well?
What do you want from a writing buddy?
What will you offer as a writing buddy?
Dream about people you’ve never met and lips
you’ve never kissed and go ahead and
turn those lips into a love story.
Let your laptop go uncharged for three nights
straight and forget all of the ideas you
thought you had.
Think about the oceans you saw with boys who
threw their trash into the water when they
thought you weren’t looking.
If the waves are indescribable, write about the
sinking feeling that hit when you
had to drive away.
Get drunk on cheap wine alone in your room
and wax poetic for hours until something
Fall asleep at the foot of your bed or on the
bathroom floor or out on the patio in the
sticky summer heat.
Write in your old notebooks that you hid under
your bed when you were just
Chew the meatiest words with your
mouth wide open.
Cringe and swallow every line
until there’s nothing left but the bones.
I would rather wear a string
of flowers than a string
I would rather not be married.
I would rather love you without
a paper license.
I want us to say fuck the world
and to grow our hair long,
maybe tattoo our bodies with
wise buddhist chants.
I want us to get drunk together
and make love in a car together
and laugh at things
that make us want to give up
I want us to appreciate everything
on this planet that we grow on.
I don’t want bills to govern us,
I don’t want society to govern us,
I don’t want blue-collar jobs
or gallons of money.
Let’s start a garden
where the grass refuses to grow.