Monday, May 6, 2013

George Saunders on Enduring Hardships Along the Way

Lately, I've been re-reading the interviews within Keep Calm and Query On--and I've been overwhelmed by the gratitude I feel towards these authors for sharing so much of their writing journeys. Inspired by the pluck and determination of the 14 authors whose interviews appear in the book, I wanted to share some snippets of their wisdom here. Up first is a powerful (and funny) answer from fiction writer and essayist George Saunders on writing your heart out, realizing you might have been wrong, but then writing your heart out all over again.

Can you recall any moments when you felt particularly discouraged as a writer? What helped to sustain your belief in your work and in yourself on these occasions?

There were certainly times where I should have felt discouraged but even at those low points I was arrogant or hopeful or deluded enough to put the bad news behind me pretty quickly, I think.  I once wrote a 700-page book about a Mexican wedding of a friend of mine, which was called La Boda de Eduardo.  Roughly translated: Ed’s Wedding.  Enough said.  That one took about a year of work and lots of late nights at a time when we had a new baby at home and I was working full-time.  So when it turned out to suck, that was a hard blow.  But in my heart I think I knew it sucked, so it was also kind of a relief—to find out I was right re. the sucking and that my taste was still active, so to speak.  And also a relief to put that book (or, libro, as I might have called it back then) behind me and move on to something more worthwhile and...alive.  There is something so wonderful about writing in a way that feels new and authentic, that feels in line with your true taste – trying to get that to that place is like seeking the Grail.  Whatever hardships have to be endured along the way, are fine – part of the larger quest, if you will. Although – I didn’t feel that way the day after La Boda de Eduardo went in El Garbago.