Tremendous advice from Susan Vreeland and Henry James…

Recently, I came across this in an interview with historical novelist, Susan Vreeland, and I thought it quite simply the best answer I’d ever encountered–the truest response to how to write and write well. 

She was asked, “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?”

And she said: 

‘Henry James:  “Try to be a person upon whom nothing is lost.”  I like to think that no observation, no experience, no emotion, no human pain is lost to a fiction writer.  No beautiful act or place or sentence or paragraph is glossed over without noticing.  Be a sponge, James tells us.  Absorb the physical world of what you see and hear, as well as the world of the spirit, including human yearnings.  Let nothing get past you.  Store it.  It’s fodder for a story or poem or novel.’

It makes me go all quiet and love my work again, that does. 


3 comments on “Tremendous advice from Susan Vreeland and Henry James…

  1. Tim Vicary says:

    It is very good, yes. Unfortunately people often say of me: ‘It’s no good asking him, he’s in a world of his own.’ Oh well. Maybe I notice more than they think. Or then again …

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Well, allegedly, I have what the Beloved calls my “1812-face”. Which means I won’t hear what’s said or if I do, I probably won’t respond or understand. I have never seen this ‘face’ though, so for all I know, porkies are being told…

  2. And that is completely true – I sometimes, even when I get really angry or sad or am happy, just stop and think, ‘I must remember this feeling so I can write it later.’

    Inspiring post MM.

    P x

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