Words matter. These are the best George Saunders Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you. What I want is to have the reader come out just 6 percent more awake to the world.
I’ve had the thought that a person’s ‘artistic vision’ is really just the cumulative combination of whatever particular stances he has sincerely occupied during his creative life – even if some of those might appear contradictory.
There’s a really nice moment in the life of a piece of writing where the writer starts to get a feeling of it outgrowing him – or he starts to see it having a life of its own that doesn’t have anything to do with his ego or his desire to ‘be a good writer.’
I’m always aware of writing around things I can’t do, and I’ve come to think that that’s actually what ‘style’ is – an avoidance of your deficiencies.
Whatever your supposed politics are – left, right – if you put it in a human connection, most people will rise to the occasion and feel the human pain in a way that they might not if it was presented in a more conceptual way.
Chekhov – shall I be blunt? – is the greatest short story writer who ever lived.
To me, the writer’s main job is to just make the story unscroll in such a way that the reader is snared – she’s right there, seeing things happen and caring about them. And if you dedicate yourself to this job, the meanings more or less take care of themselves. That’s the theory, anyway.
Developing our sympathetic compassion is not only possible but the only reason for us to be here on earth.
We have that illusion that we are ‘deciding’ what to make a character do, in order to ‘convey our message’ or something like that. But, at least in my experience, you are often more like a river-rafting guide who’s been paid a bonus to purposely steer your clients into the roughest possible water.
There might be a different model for a literary community that’s quicker, more real-time, and involves more spontaneity.
Irony is just honesty with the volume cranked up.
I tend to foster drama via bleakness. If I want the reader to feel sympathy for a character, I cleave the character in half, on his birthday. And then it starts raining. And he’s made of sugar.
The chances of a person breaking through their own habits and sloth and limited mind to actually write something that gets out there and matters to people are slim.
The mind is a machine that is constantly asking: What would I prefer? Close your eyes, refuse to move, and watch what your mind does. What it does is become discontent with that-which-is. A desire arises, you satisfy that desire, and another arises in its place.
You don’t want to be that parent – the one who dresses his kid in a cloth sack when all the other kids are in Armani cloth sacks – especially in a time like ours, when materialism is not only rampant and ascendant but is fast becoming the only game in town.
If you haven’t read you don’t have the voice. The lack of voice eliminates experience.
That seems to be the definition of ‘novel’ for me: a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief.
A John Updike is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon, if that generation is lucky: so comfortable in so many genres, the same lively, generous intelligence suffusing all he did.
I was a big and un-ironic fan of Dear Abby when I was a kid in Chicago. I think I sort of internalized her. So I have this inner Abby: cranky, proper, folksy yet scathing, with a beehive hairdo. But that’s my issue.
The best thing that ever happened to me is that nothing happened in writing. I ended up working for engineering companies, and that’s where I found my material, in the everyday struggle between capitalism and grace. Being broke and tired, you don’t come home your best self.
I still believe that capitalism is too harsh and I believe that, even within that, there is a lot of satisfaction and beauty if you happen to be one of the lucky ones, although that doesn’t eradicate the reality of the suffering. It’s all true at once, kind of humming and sublime.
The artist’s job, I think, is to be a conduit for mystery. To intuit it, and recognize that the story-germ has some inherent mystery in it, and sort of midwife that mystery into the story in such a way that it isn’t damaged in the process, and may even get heightened or refined.
Nostalgia is, ‘Hey, remember the other mall that used to be there?’
Back in 1992, I had my first story accepted by ‘The New Yorker.’
What a powerful thing to know: That one’s own desires are mappable onto strangers; that what one finds in oneself will most certainly be found in The Other.
We try, we fail, we posture, we aspire, we pontificate – and then we age, shrink, die, and vanish.
The word ‘funny’ is a bit like the word ‘love’ – we don’t have enough words to describe the many varieties.
I think fiction isn’t so good at being for or against things in general – the rhetorical argument a short story can make is only actualized by the accretion of particular details, and the specificity of these details renders whatever conclusions the story reaches invalid for wider application.
I was a straight arrow, a control freak. I didn’t do drugs or drink, and this was the ’70s. I didn’t like the loss of control. Which isn’t exactly right, because I didn’t know what happened when you did drugs.
When something really bad is going on in a culture, the average guy doesn’t see it. He can’t. He’s average and is surrounded by and immersed in the cant and discourse of the status quo.
I think in our time, you know, so much of the information we get is pre-polarized. Fiction has a way of reminding us that we actually are very similar in our emotions and our neurology and our desires and our fears, so I think it’s a nice way to neutralize that polarization.
When I was a kid, I took ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘The Partridge Family’ very seriously. It was a world to me in the same way that the Greek myths would have been had I read them. You know, Marcia is Athena and Mr. Brady is Zeus.
That for me was the big turning point in my artistic life, when my wife and I had our kids. The world got infused with morality again. Every person in the world should theoretically be loved as much as I love my daughters.
I often think about image, and image is something that – but in truth, the real artistic process, as I’ve understood it, is 95 percent intuitive, like seat-of-the-pants, at-the-moment decisions that you can’t even explain, you know?
I’m finding, as I get older, that I’m not much of a believer in redemption. I mean, I believe in redemption in real life – redemption does happen, and it’s cool when it does – but I find myself getting leery of my desire for it in stories (especially my own).