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What writing is and is not:
Writing fiction is not rocket science or calculus, it is not dependent on theory or lofty abstraction, nor is it the life-and-death drama of medicine or the cutthroat battle of the courtroom. The writer of fiction does not need the alphabet of credentials after his or her name in order to play the game. But what the writer of fiction absolutely needs is the willingness to dream, to trust the truthfulness of his or her intuition, and the ability to translate those dreams onto paper, knowing full well that no matter how distant the contents of the story or how effaced the writer remains, his or her heart is going to be on display. That can be a dangerous exploration and a certain kind of bravery is required, for those who write face dragons every day.


For those who would write and participate in workshops:

I know too many people who talk about their desire to write the way children talk about becoming movie stars and firemen—as though the wish were enough—and over the years, I’ve had to be honest with myself as well. Writers write. And when I’m not writing, I’m not a writer. I’m a reader when I read, I’m a teacher when I teach. And I’m a writer when I write. And these are the greatest gifts of a workshop: the encouragement to write, accountability to others when we don’t, the expectation of an audience, the fear of disappointing. For there is no other way to produce a story or a novel, except by the discipline of sitting still long enough—alone, without distractions—to think, to compose, to edit, and to start over if need be. The practice of writing may be the loneliest, most solitary art, but we can help one another if we are honest and committed to the craft rather than relying on our most idle of desires.