The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old drag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
The Bell Jar was hard to read for several reasons. My grandfather suffered with Bi-polar Disorder earlier in his life. This caused him to act erratically, to drive to Florida without notice, and to require the use of shock treatments. My mother told me about the shock treatments. She only talked about it the one time. It made me see my grandfather as a conqueror, someone who can push past and not give up. And my grandmother. And my mother.
And I have struggled with my own devils, sitting on my shoulder, whispering inadequacies I had never opened my eyes to.
“The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.”
Seattle was the darkest. I sat in my room for days, sleeping on the floor because I could not afford a bed. I rarely ate. I drank wine. I tried to forget about the outside world. I parked my car in front of the apartment and never drove it again. I left it in the same spot for seven months.
I once had a job in Korea, after my visa was denied. I worked at an academy, but the hours were too much. Seven days a week, teaching ten hours straight on Saturdays, sleeping only two hours a night and finally falling asleep on top of ungraded papers. That was when the panic attacks started. Nowadays I try to put those memories behind me.
“Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them. But they were a part of me. They were my landscape.”
The Bell Jar is about a girl sinking into an abyss, from which the only answer for her is suicide. She made many attempts, though none of them successful. She recovered. She married and had children. It is an easy thing to type, but it must be remembered that Sylvia Plath lived these experiences before transferring them to Esther Greenwood. And eventually, when she was a mere thirthy-years-old, one of her attempts was finally successful.
The life she could have led, the books written, the people loved: these I thought of while reading. And they are what I had to consider when my own bouts raged through. Clouds of darkness that never seemed to clear. But one day they did.
The sun always rises. Life goes on.
I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.
-William Carlos Williams
There is only one plot—things are not what they seem.
Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.
I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.
Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.
Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.