All in Writers

Ian McEwan

“I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction. It is the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated ill-shaven giant (but a giant who's a genius on his best days).”

—Ian McEwan

Min Jin lee

“I like making things. I enjoy putting words and images on a blank space. There should be joy in the writing itself because parts of it are so challenging and lonesome. I take great pleasure in reading, researching, and interviewing. I enjoy forming my sentences and revising them to make them clean.”

—Min Jin Lee

Sharon Olds

“Poems come from ordinary experiences and objects, I think. Out of memory - a dress I lent my daughter on her way back to college; a newspaper photograph of war; a breast self-exam; the tooth fairy; Calvinist parents who beat up their children; a gesture of love; seeing oneself naked over age 50 in a set of bright hotel bathroom mirrors.”

—Sharon Olds

Louise Glück

“I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen.”

—Louise Glück

Matthew Zapruder

“It is absolutely vital to preserve a space where the mind, by means of poetic thinking, can move in a free, even anarchic, way. It must do so, in order to find deep truths that would not be otherwise available, ones that we desperately need. Anyone who writes poetry knows what I'm talking about, because they've had the experience of thinking this way.[

—Matthew Zapruder

Dani Shapiro

“If I waited to be in the mood to write, I'd barely have a chapbook of material to my name. Who would ever be in the mood to write? Do marathon runners get in the mood to run? Do teachers wake up with the urge to lecture? I don't know, but I doubt it. My guess is that it's the very act that is generative. The doing of the thing that makes possible the desire for it.”

—Dani Shapiro

Callan Wink

“I think most fiction can be assessed as a ratio of invention to reality. With most of my stories, I start with a very small bit of reality, say, a piece of eavesdropped conversation, and then I invent the broader story around it.”

—Callan Wink

Mary Oliver

“Believe me, if anybody has a job and starts at 9, there's no reason why they can't get up at 4:30 or five and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day - which is what I did.”

—Mary Oliver

Dan Chaon

“A lot of time, with stories, I'll start out with a title and try to dream myself into the story that it evokes - a kind of subconscious exercise in which I'm trawling for some kind of entryway into fiction.”

—Dan Chaon

Miranda July

“I was a lot dumber when I was writing the novel. I felt like worse of a writer because I wrote many of the short stories in one sitting or over maybe three days, and they didn't change that much. There weren't many, many drafts. That made me feel semi-brilliant and part of a magical process. Writing the novel wasn't like that. I would come home every day from my office and say, "Well, I still really like the story, I just wish it was better written." At that point, I didn't realize I was writing a first draft. And the first draft was the hardest part.”

—Miranda July

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

“Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”

—Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Diane Setterfield

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”

—Diane Setterfield

Timothy Egan

“Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.”

—Timothy Egan