Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An essay you need to read

I hadn't planned on posting today, but in catching up with the blogs I follow I was directed by Celeste Ng (who blogs for Fiction Writers Review) to a wonderful essay by Junot Diaz (pictured above). The essay appears in O magazine and is just the thing for any novelist--historical or otherwise--struggling to finish, or simply believe in, his or her project. As most of you probably know, Diaz's book The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, is simply brilliant. It's powerfully told, huge in scope, and yet intensely personal. It just a killer. Read it, if you haven't already. If you have read it, re-read it. And try to tell me that the narrator's voice isn't one of the most gripping in all of literature. Thing is, as his essay explains, he nearly gave up on the novel and, not only that, his whole writing career. After five years of work, that's how downhearted he was. When he decided not to give up on the book, it took him another five years to realize the novel he'd wanted to write all along. Ten years of work in total. Diaz ends his essay with some sentences that I might start putting on my creative writing syllabi: "You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway." If you're slogging through a book project, as so many of us are, check out Diaz's essay.


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