Monday, October 11, 2004

Gothamist: Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking Author

Gothamist: Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking Author

I'm still pissed out myself for missing Augusten Burroughs' book signing/free cocktail last week at the SoHo Bloomingdale. His memoirs, Running With Scissors and Dry are ridiculously dark and funny.
For those aspiring writers lacking in magical thinking, do you have any advice on how to be a writer? Do you think that's something that can be taught or learned, or are you just born with it?

You do not have to be "born" with "it." You do need to have a passion. You need to want to be a writer and it's best if you really enjoy writing. But you can hate writing or dislike writing and still be a writer. But it's best if you enjoy it. And you should read, like I said before, as many good books as you can. Don't read junky books, trash. Limit yourself to one "beach read" per season, I think. And then read really good works by smart, literate authors. On all topics. Stretch yourself. And believe me, this is advice I take myself. I didn't even read a book until I was 24, so think of that and get inspired. The other thing, write every day. Even if you only write for ten minutes. You do that every day and in a year, you'll have quite the Word Collection. And some of those words are bound to be in an order you like. In other words, you'll have some good stuff.

But the number-one most important thing, and the reason you want to write every day, is because you must be honest. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, demand of yourself ruthless honesty. This means, accurate descriptions of feelings and thoughts and the environment. True, true, true, this is what you want to achieve. Something that rings, as I say, the bell of truth. Know, too, that writing isn't something you need to study in college or graduate school or anywhere. Think of Elizabeth Berg. She's a perfect example. Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors and did she go to Iowa and get a fancy degree? No, she did not. She was an R.N. And she wasn't seventeen when she published her first novel, either. My last piece of advice is to never, never give up. No matter how poor the odds may appear. If it's something you really want, then you must never, ever let go of the vision, the dream. And this, really, IS Magical Thinking.

See, I need to follow this advice.

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