“I remember very clearly writing a couple songs, or the genesis of a couple songs coming on swing sets, as I am swinging for exercise. Before I became more of a cripple it was a great form of exercise and anger management for me to sneak on the swings at McCarren Park if the kids weren’t there, to sneak on the swings at Prospect Park when I lived in Brooklyn, and ride the swings and have the Walkman with me. Occasionally these melodies would come because my body was feeling freer and physical, moving up and down on a swing set like a pendulum. It liberated the music and then I’d go back later on and sit there and try to shape them into a song.”
The Rumpus Interview with Chris Stroffolino, of Silver Jews, by Rob Rubsam. Stroffolino has a new solo album, Griffith Park.

By the end of the first draft, I felt like I really had something—a great story and a great protagonist. I handed it over to my husband for a first round of feedback.

He agreed with me—the novel could really be something. He thought the story, though it didn’t yet cohere, was gripping and resonant. But there was one major problem.

“Marjorie,” he said, “is kind of a bitch.”

“I know,” I answered. “Isn’t it awesome?”

No, it turns out. It was not awesome. My grown-ass woman—smart, unafraid, angry—was a bitch, and nobody liked her.

The Bitch in My Book by Stephanie Feldman

It’s amazing that it’s been that long. It’s amazing to me that Weetzie is still as popular as it is, even way more so than in the beginning, that she continues to draws people to her. That fascinates me. I didn’t really expect the universal qualities. It was so personal to me. I didn’t think of it as My Big Book. I thought it was my book for me and my friends, and then it turned into the one that touches the most people.

It’s been really great to be able to evolve in public in that way, to be able to grow up and write these books and have my readers grow with me. I feel very grateful and privileged that I’ve had the opportunity to express myself in this way and connect to these people. That’s the best part. Because I know these are my people. It’s like sending out a message in a bottle.

“I mean, girl, we’ve gotta look at people’s intentions toward us. Anyone who would try to shut you down or shut me down is a person who doesn’t want the best for you. If I got on the phone today and I said, “Oh, girl, listen to your dad, don’t write your truth,” I’m not a person who has your best intentions in mind. And you should be like, “Thanks Samantha, good to talk to you,” and write me off as a person who doesn’t care about you—because I don’t if I tell you to shut yourself down.”
“I’ve never been one of those authors who fully creates a character in some form distinct from the writing of the story. I don’t do character sketches or “learn” (which actually means invent) things like what they wore to Halloween at the age of eight, or how recently they’ve been to the dentist – unless that comes up naturally. I can understand why people do that, but I tend to start with a few big-picture facts, or not even those, but with a situation or, as in the case of this book, an opening sentence, and then make it all up as I go along.”
“[Readers] want the writer to have some sort of personal experience with the narrative. It’s bizarre. People are expecting fiction to be real. We don’t want our writers to write about magic without having grown up in a family full of magicians. The same thing happens when you put people in these boxes. I can’t think of a novel published recently that is a person of one race writing about another race that’s met with much critical success. Why? Why can’t we? That’s our job as writers: To step out of our skins and into other people’s. To the extent that we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our jobs.”
“Romance writers do what they love, and they get paid for it. They hone their craft, like any other writer. They value their work, and they speak with an honest voice, telling the stories that they want to tell. I can’t imagine anything more feminist.”
“One of the reasons that I wanted to study literature was because it exposed everything. Writers looked for secrets that had never been mined. Every writer has to invent their own magical language in order to describe the indescribable. They might seem to be writing in French, or English, or Spanish, but really they were writing in the language of butterflies, crows, and hanged men.”
— From The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill, reviewed for The Rumpus by Liz Fischer Greenhill
“If you have some other profession that allows you your evenings or weekends, terrific, stick with that. Having a profession other than writing also has the potential side benefit of providing you with material, something to write about. I tell my students, if you’re interested in marine biology or llama farming, follow that string. Yes, it will probably take you a longer time to write that book, but it’s not a race. That’s another great thing about being a writer: you don’t age out.”
But I kept my sunny side up. I knew it would all work out. I started sending the book out myself to contests, then to small presses, then to smaller presses. Over a year went by. One morning I received a letter from some tiny press in somewhere like Never, Never North Dakota with a name something like Not Going To Happen Press. The rejection was typed on thick grey paper: Dear Micah Perks, we only publish two books a year and though we admired your novel, we have decided to publish two others this year instead. We are sure you will soon find a publisher for this lovely, lyrical work. Then, a handwritten P.S.: If you ever learn how to tell a story you’ll be a great writer. This was probably my thirtieth rejection. This was western New York in February, and I was in my baggy pajamas and a wool hat inside my apartment at one in the afternoon. I tore up the letter, threw it on the floor. I grabbed up the dusty bottle of champagne, ran out the back door—slipping and skidding on icy back steps in my bare feet into the small backyard covered in snow and dog shit, bare branches of the quince bush still months from budding. I let out a furious sob and threw that champagne bottle as hard as I could.
Back To The Beginning: Why I Write by Micah Perks.