Monday, February 22, 2010

Magical Monday - Stolen Words

I found this over the weekend. It may be familiar to some of you, but it was brand new for me and stopped me in my tracks.

If only you'd remember before ever you sit down to write that you've been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart's choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won't even underline that. It's too important to be underlined. Oh, dare to do it, Buddy! Trust your heart. You're a deserving craftsman. It would never betray you.

-JD Salinger

Many writers have been told to "write from the heart." But we're also told to write for the market. We've been told to "write what you know." Arthur Levine says to not write what you know, but write what you are, your own unique emotional experience. The difference is subtle, but his blog post about it a few years ago connected with me as surely as did Salinger's words above. (And as soon as I find the link again, I'll post it.)

Amber Scott will be my guest blogger this Friday, and in her interview she mentioned an epiphany she had that was along the lines of the quote above. I won't go into detail about it right now, but leave that for her to tell you on Friday. (By the way, she and I will be visiting each others blogs that day, and you will have extra chances to win free books if you visit both sites.)

Magical Mondays has always been about those transcendent moments in life when you just have to sit back and stare in wonder at the ways in which the Universe works. Finding that passage from JD Salinger was just such a moment for me. It is, as he says, so simple it's almost terrible; hard to believe. I've often leaned toward writing the books I want to read - have even heard the advice to just that before - but what I want to read probably isn't all that popular. But really, how do I know that if I haven't tried?

Oh, dare to do it, Buddy! Trust your heart. You're a deserving craftsman. It would never betray you.

Do you dare?


  1. I read a lot of historical romances, but have no desire to write one. So that wouldn't work for me. I read in the genre of my current book, but not a lot.

    Good luck with the book you want to write. Love the "dare to do it, Buddy!"

  2. Wow, great quote, Kate! Just what I needed to read today! :-)

  3. Somehow I've never found that kind of advice to be helpful...write what you know, write what you feel, write what you'd want to read, etc. It sort of just comes together as, write and write and write some more.

    I often don't know what it's going to be until it's on the page. That could be why I don't finish a lot.

  4. Hi Edie, Natasha & Travis!

    I can see where this post may or may not be helpful the way it was written; unfortunately, it wasn't exactly finished the way I wanted it to be. I was writing it during my lunch break yesterday, and had much more to tie in with the Magical Monday/boob wishes, etc. theme, and how this quote applied to what had been going on in my life from both work and writing perspectives. However, it seemed that every time I tried to write something, all of my coworkers and their relatives decided they needed to interrupt and I kept losing my train of thought. :( Maybe next Monday I'll finish the REAL post. :)

    Meanwhile, I'm glad you got something from it, Natasha. :)


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