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.