Admired for her quiet daring, her structures, and her inventions, most of all she is revered for her sentences.
SICHA: A few people may talk about the “craft of writing,” but they sound phony. The way you put it is very realistic: that this is an important thing to do if you care about writing.
LE GUIN: The word craft these days has this sort of funny, twee sound, like some little artisan putting the yeast in his handcrafted bread. Craft is how you do something well—anything. You can do anything with craft or with skill, or without it. Writing an English sentence takes a good deal of craft and skill. Writing a good English sentence takes a lot more of it.
At Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman talks to his favorite writers about how they deal with writer’s block. Some step away from their work and return to it later, while others look to their favorite writers for inspiration. One of the most interesting responses came from The Awl’s Choire Sicha, who says he hasn’t had to deal with writer’s block:
A minority of respondents, comprising one man named Choire Sicha, does not believe in writer’s block. Effacing himself and everyone else (such is his way), Sicha writes: “I, like … don’t ever have writer’s block? I SHOULDN’T JINX MYSELF. HEH. Generally I just figure when people have ‘writer’s block’ they should either go to therapy or get sober or break up with their boyfriend or just figure out they’re not cut out for being a writer and should go get a job folding scarves.” In this respect, Sicha resembles a certain J. Alastair Frisby, who once told P.G. Wodehouse the humorist would “never [finish] a book” and suggested Wodehouse “get a job selling jellied eels.” Scarves at least represent a less slimy option.
FULL STOP: Today, we’re flooded with stories via the internet — on personal Tumblrs, Facebook and Twitter statuses, the abundance of magazines and newspapers that make their content free online. With so many narratives all around us, why do we still read (and pay for) novels?
“Oh I’m fairly certain we… don’t any more. We do a little I guess! We all paid for Beyoncé’s album though didn’t we, how do you like that. People will pay for a book for a few reasons:
“• The big books get bought because they’re guaranteed feel-good weepers. (Not a contradiction; see also Upworthy, dogs greeting homecoming veterans, and babies.)
“• The littler books get bought for a few reasons, besides the ‘oh I have heard good things from a trusted purveyor of opinions and I wish to indulge in this book’: aspirational purchasing (related to aspirational sharing), which means ‘I want to be the kind of person who buys this book,’ which is less obnoxious than ‘I want to be seen reading this book’ which is less bad than ‘I want to tell people I’m reading this book.’ I mean not that I haven’t done all those things, so you know. Then there are identity reasons; Tao Lin is bought by a cadre of young smart people who want to be in some sort of Smart Kids scene. And then there’s the good old capitalist market-maker: exclusivity. You can’t get it anyhow anyway? Then you’ll buy it.”