Follow your own curiosity and say the most interesting stuff first. There is this weird idea of a “general reader,” who reads the New York Times and is equally interested in about 200 things (politics, peace in the middle east, pie, &c). I don’t think such people exist. And if they do, they are too busy reading the New York Times to read whatever you’re writing.
So forget that hypothetical reader and write about the things that are most interesting to you. Then, make it your mission to explain to readers why they should care about this thing you find interesting.
At the base of it, I guess I don’t believe in other people’s hierarchies about what’s important in the world. … And — this is one reason I love the web — all the analytics I’ve ever seen on my stories indicate that my own interest level and effort dictate what does well, *not* the subject matter.
A painting is a visual path that looking follows. A musical composition does the same for listening. Art is a summoning of attention. To create it requires the highest directed focus, as does experiencing it.
To be a great writer: know everything about adjectives and punctuation (rhythm)
have moral intelligence — which creates true authority in a writer.
Impossible is a concept that makes one’s heart laugh and throw peanuts at the television.
Much has always been made of the fact that Koons is in league with the plutocrats and once worked on Wall Street, selling commodities. But he’s always been quick to refuse the art world’s carefully patrolled shibboleths—that work has personal meaning, that it must contain some social criticism, that it express ambivalence about the art market. Koons does not make ambivalent work, which is his way of giving people what they actually enjoy: a lavishly elevated version of mass-cultural charisma.
It is often said that an artist like Koons works at the top of the art world… But it would probably be more accurate to say that he works above the art world… beyond the reach of critics, curators, other artists and other dealers who make up what is usually called the art Establishment. That Establishment doesn’t just ignore the work of the unknown artist but also, for the most part, that of the world-famous—especially Koons, Hirst, and Murakami, who have become so big and so rich it no longer seems important to have opinions of them. Instead, they are talked about as cultural phenomena about which one should have ideas—balloon dogs, reality television, Occupy Wall Street.
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.
Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers. From sex to fighting, from child-rearing to chores, they must hammer out every last detail of domestic life without falling back on assumptions about who will do what. In this regard, they provide an example that can be enlightening to all couples. Critics warn of an institution rendered “genderless.” But if a genderless marriage is a marriage in which the wife is not automatically expected to be responsible for school forms and child care and dinner preparation and birthday parties and midnight feedings and holiday shopping, I think it’s fair to say that many heterosexual women would cry “Bring it on!”
Gay marriage can function as a controlled experiment, helping us see which aspects of marital difficulty are truly rooted in gender and which are not. A growing body of social science has begun to compare straight and same-sex couples in an attempt to get at the question of what is female, what is male. Some of the findings are surprising.
A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.
Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Everybody was very in awe of him because he was so much smarter than everybody. I’d been living in Cambridge where everybody was smarter than everybody, and I’d sort of decided that smart wasn’t that big of a deal. Not that it’s not a great advantage, but in his case I think it was a great disadvantage.