The worst thing that could happen to the ferocious seekers after identity is that they should find it and it only. There are many who do their best to escape it. Of our incorrigible and profound revulsion against identity, I suppose that physical love is the simplest, most immediate, and for many the only expression. Some have their comfort in feeling that they belong to the world of nature, big brother to the animals and cousin to the trees; some commit themselves to the kingdom of God. There is much in all of them, but for you, I imagine, not enough in any. For you it will have to be the kingdom of man, it will have to be art. You have nothing to gain and nothing to give except as you distill and purify ephemeral experience into quiet, searching, touching little stories like the one you have just finished, and so give your uncommon readers a chance to join you in the solidarity of pain and love and the vision of human possibility.
Wallace Stegner, “To a Young Writer”
It’s a cycle. You start a story, and it’s stupid. You don’t have any ideas. You’re washed up. Finished. And then you get a sliver of an idea, but it’s kind of dumb. Ugh. Then you start working it, and it becomes, oh, maybe. Alright. Yeah, I am going to finish this story. I did finish it! It’s not terrible! [Then] you don’t have any ideas. Is that what life is? It’s just a series of enacting the cycle. Lately, it’s become kind of wonderful to say, ‘Yeah, so now I’m at the point where I don’t have any ideas. Is is a crisis? No, it’s not a crisis. You’ve been here before. And maybe even you could enjoy that moment when you’re bereft of ideas… The goal would be to keep enacting that [cycle], live to 190, and put the period on the best story ever.
Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.