I remember quite vividly sitting in a college art class and hearing my professor, Laurel Beckman, say to us: “You can’t create art in a vacuum.” I wish I could say the lightbulb went off then, but it took many more years before I really understood how important consumption is to creation. To write about life, you have to really live life. To tell an interesting story, you have to read a ton – and I mean, a TON – of interesting stories. It’s not something you do when you have time or when you feel like it. It’s something you do habitually.
So says award-winning author, Jennifer Egan.
Shannon Lell, fellow blogger, writer, and reader of Bigger Picture Blogs, first turned me on to Jennifer Egan’s work and told me how influential and inspiring Egan has been for her. So I’d like to share an interview with you here.
This interview with Jennifer Egan is posted on The Days of Yore, a blog highlighting author interviews and discussing what the authors went through before they found fame. Egan’s interview is available HERE.
One of the most fascinating insights I gleaned from her interview is how much Egan relied on other people to help turn her writing from horrible to fantastic. Her breakthroughs came from sharing her writing with others (not friends and family) and having that sounding board reflecting back at her what was working, what engaged others, and what didn’t fly.
She was writing, and not in a vacuum.
It’s scary as all heck to put ourselves out there…but that’s what we need to do to break out of swimming in the stagnant waters of our own self-made puddles. You’re not growing if you’re not absolutely terrified.
Do you need to break free from your own echo chamber and have others hear your words? If so, join a Bigger Pictures Writing Circle! And on October 28 at 12pm CST, we’re having a special session where you can bring some of your own writing to a safe, constructive circle of fellow writers for feedback, encouragement, critique, and praise. There’s room for one or two more! Details HERE.
That class also taught Egan to break her habits. For me, I think the habit I need to break is the habit of writing myself too much into the main character. I have a couple of short stories I’ve written that I’m quite proud of, and I think they’re stronger in part because I broke free of that habit. Now I just need to do that with my longer pieces.
Do you have a writerly habit you need to break? If so, what is it?
I hope you find these insights interesting. Definitely check out Egan’s interview! And I encourage you to find interviews with your own favorite authors – and if there is any you come across that you find enlightening or inspiring, please share them in the comments and I’ll highlight them here for us all to read!