thoughts on Fiction Writing from Annie Weatherwax

quote from Annie Weatherwax

“I learned how to write fiction by understanding the language of visual art.”

“Fiction writing for me has much more to do with the disciplined skill of seeing than with the study of literature. Seeing has little to do with language. In fact, true seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees. It is looking at a piece of paper and seeing a tree, then seeing the man who chopped it down, his hands, his face, how he walks. Hidden inside those visual details is the story of his life.”

“Body language can reveal more about character than almost any other detail.”

“The process of finding a character in a hunk of clay is the same as finding a story on a blank page. You must work a piece from all angles and recognize the danger of focusing too quickly on details when the structure and form have not yet been fully established.”

—Annie Weatherwax, from her Op-Ed piece, “The Art of Fiction Writing,” in the Publisher’s Weekly’s Soapbox section. Weatherwax is a visual artist and writer. She spent most of her career sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for Nickelodeon, DC Comics, Warner Bros., Pixar, and others. Her debut novel, All We Had, will be published by Scribner in August 2014. Visit her website to see her work.

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some insight on how bad moments influence our identity, from Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon TED quote

“We don’t seek the painful experiences that hew our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences.”

“Forge meaning and build identity: Forging meaning is about changing yourself; building identity is about changing the world.”

“We cannot bear a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe that it’s purposeful.”

“Ease makes less of an impression on us than struggle.”

“We could have been ourselves without our delights, but not without the misfortunes that drive our search for meaning.”

“Identity itself should be not a smug label or a gold medal but a revolution.”

Andrew Solomon, from his TED Talk, “How the Worst Moments In Our Lives Make Us Who We Are.” Solomon is a writer on politics, culture, and psychology. He is a regular contributor to NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other publications. His book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2001 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

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some insight on the “near win” from Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis TED

“We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.”

“We build out of the unfinished idea, even if that idea is our former self.”

“Completion is a goal but we hope it is never the end.”

—Sarah Lewis, from her TED Talk, “Embrace the near win.” Lewis is a writer, art historian, and curator. Her debut book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery analyzes the idea of failure focusing on case studies that reveal how setbacks can become a tool enabling us to master our destinies (TED Talks). 

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a line from Apoorva Mandavilli

quote from apoorva mandavilli

“You can never overestimate how empowering it is to see someone who looks like you—only older and more successful. That, much more than well-meaning advice and encouragement, tells you that you can make it.”

—Apoorva Mandavilli, from her article, “Alone in a Room Full of Science Writers,” on Medium.com. Mandavilli is a science journalist and adjunct professor at New York University. Her article discusses her experience as a minority in the field of science journalism.

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advice to Aspiring Authors from Junot Díaz

Junot Diaz advice to authors

“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.”

—Junot Díaz, from The Daily Beast’s “How I Write” interviews. Díaz is a Dominican-American author, who is known for his best-selling novel, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His latest book, This Is How You Lose Her, is a collection of short stories that was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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a note on the Familiar from Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade quote

…you can find the strange in the familiar. As long as you’re willing to look beyond what’s already been brought to light, then you can see what’s below the surface, hiding in the shadows, and recognize that there can be more there than meets the eye.”

—Alexa Meade, from her TED Talk, “You Body is My Canvas.” Meade is an artist who paints on living subjects. She takes a three-dimensional creation and makes it appear as two-dimensional by collapsing depth and making her models appear flat.

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a note on Re-reading from Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley - By the Book quote

“…the first time the reader works her way through the volume it’s more like a first date than a one-time encounter. If the person was uninteresting (not worthwhile) there’s no need for a repeat performance, but if they have promise, good humor, hope or just good manners, you might want to have a second sit-down, a third. There might be something irksome about that rendezvous that makes you feel that you have something to work out. There might be a hint of eroticism suggesting the possibility of a tryst or even marriage.”

—Walter Mosley, from the By the Book section of the New York Times. Mosley is an American author who’s known for his crime fiction such as Devil in a Blue Dress.

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