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" It's good training for a novelist to try to discern the truth about a place after only a few glimpses of it. "
" My first book is about twins who are attached: two people who are joined and can't escape each other. "
" Conjoined twins are identical siblings who develop one placenta out of a single fertilised ovum. No cases of conjoined triplets or quadruplets have been documented. "
" A subplot is a distinguishing characteristic of the novel; the short story, for example, does not need subplots. "
" Write what you think is good, is the whole of the law. "
" I'm really wary of self-help books. "
" It's a very performative thing, grief. As with so much in modern life, I think there's a whole performative layer to what we do because we feel like there's a private TV show viewing our lives. "
" If you're guilty of something, you can focus on that, but if something terrible happens, and you can't imagine how you could have changed it, that's very difficult for the mind. In some ways, it's more difficult not to be at fault because it's a subtler thing. "
" Usually, as a fiction writer, you get e-mails saying, 'I liked your book,' or 'I didn't like it.' You don't get something saying, 'I'm really glad this is in the world.' "
" One of the disconcerting things about writing for publication is that you're trying to clear your little parcel of land in a field where Taste is king - and, as we all know, there's no accounting for Taste. "
" When you write fiction, you have an ideal reader in your mind who's sort of you but smarter. "
" In order for a narrative to work, the primary character should have a concrete desire - a need that drives her story - and the story's writer should make this goal known to the reader pretty early in the narrative. "
" You can work really hard and well on something, and someone you respect might hate it; worse, they're not empirically wrong for doing so. This is scary, especially for people who haven't been published. "
" Society isn't good at dealing with people who have something concrete to feel guilty about or who are dealing with a loss. "
" You get a bad review with a novel, and it hurts. But I imagine if you get a bad review with a memoir, it hurts more because you can always say, 'Well, they didn't like my characters,' but when you're the character, it's like, 'Oh, yeah, they actually didn't like me.' "
" Characters stretching their legs in some calm haven generally don't make for interesting protagonists. "
" In Minneapolis, I learned that there are more theaters per square mile than in any U.S. city but New York, and we also had great Midwestern beef in our salads in a plaza overlooking the national headquarters of Target, Inc. "
" V. S. Pritchett was one of the most admired, fun, talked-about writers of the 20th century: he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his work with prose. He was born in 1900, wrote till he died in 1997, and has been tidily forgotten ever since. This is a real shame. "
" My training and my inclination is to invent. "
" In each scene, the writer sets up a situation, which brings a conflict as well as either a small victory or a loss at the close of that particular scene. "
" The starkest rejection letter might be followed by a million-dollar advance. Don't let rejection start to look the same as failure. "
" I think it's a wonderful fact about Judaism - at least about the approach to Judaism I most relate to: There are no universal answers. We don't have it all figured out. God is unknowable. "
" I've had menial jobs, and 'professional writer' isn't one of them. "
" Constant rejection. No security. Career paths being dictated by freelance reviewers. And of course, the terror of the writing desk, of the blank page. Why is it so hard for our non-writer friends to understand this - that it's a job? "
" Regret doesn't budge things; it seems crazy that the force of all that human want can't amend a moment, can't even stir a pebble. "