Everyone knows Roald Dahl’s last novel Matilda, his seemingly pro-female examination of a talented young girl oppressed by the provincialism of her parents. What they usually do not know is that the original draft of the book painted the protagonist as a devilish little hussy who only later becomes “clever”, perhaps because she found herself without very much to do after torturing her parents. Dahl’s editor Stephen Roxburgh completely revised Dahl’s last novel and, in doing so, turned it into his most popular book.
Paul Simon’s Graceland celebrates a quarter century this summer: it hit your parents’ cassette player in August 1986. I was six and my sister was twelve. We were both still single and life was great. This means that Graceland is now the same age that “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles, “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King, “Hit the Road, Jack” by Ray Charles, and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by the King (of Graceland) were when Simon’s album came out. I name only songs because in 1961 albums as we understand them today hadn’t yet been invented.
Befriend The Other Woman: Always. Seriously. Even if she sucks (expansion on “if she sucks” follows below). Otherwise you will be “jokingly” put into competition with her constantly, and you will be encouraged and generally provoked by some dudes to do this for their entertainment to take focus off the fact that they are in homosocial competition with each other. Befriend her and press your boobs against the glass ceiling together (copyright Kristen Schaal). She is not the enemy. She is never your enemy. The enemy is always any guys who are creating situations that limit the number of females allowed. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down.
Ever since I began my full-length memoir Jesus Was A Pale Imitation of Myself I have been deluged with responses from fans asking me how I start writing. That’s a great question, but I usually don’t give writing advice for free, just the actual writing. Still many authors have weighed in on this subject and we can learn much from their instruction. This is the first of a four part series. (Featuring Joyce Carol Oates, Gene Wolfe, Philip Levine, Thomas Pynchon, Gertrude Stein.)