In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, we asked some of our Unbridled authors: “What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever given or received?” We found their answers to be positively inspiring.
“In an essay published in Granta about the temporary loss of his eyesight, novelist Teju Cole says this: “When we write fiction, we write within what we know. But we also write in the hope that what we have written will somehow outdistance us. We hope, through the spooky art of writing, to trick ourselves into divulging truths that we do not know we know.”
I love this description of the peculiar alchemy that transforms what writers bring to their work into what the pages become, a process that is not only mysterious but sometimes seems as fantastic as turning lead into gold. Yet it is crucial that we bring something valuable—that “what we know” is a rich space. We should nourish those parts of us that write through challenging reading and thinking, through art and nature, through conversation, and by collection. Writers are always conducting field research—collecting a line, a gesture, an image, an idea—so that when we sit down to work we have the base metal that our spooky art might transmute into something noble.”
Elise Blackwell is the author of Hunger, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, Grub, and An Unfinished Score. Her books have been named to numerous “best of the year” lists, including the Los Angeles Times, Sydney Morning Herald, and Kirkus. Her short stories and cultural criticism have appeared in Witness, Topic, Seed, Global City Review, Quick Fiction, and elsewhere.