Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Words of Advice from Ann Patchett

I fell in love with Ann Patchett's writing when I read her amazing, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel Bel Canto. She is the author of many other novels including Run, The Patron Saint of Liars, and most recently State of Wonder.

I was thrilled to read an interview with her in a recent email newsletter from the literary magazine One Story. Here are some snippets of advice from Ann that I think all writers can hold dear:

  • Show kindness whenever possible. Show it to the people in front of you, the people coming up behind you, and the people with whom you are running neck and neck. It will vastly improve the quality of your own life, the lives of others, and the state of the world.

  • Buy your books at independent bookstores and tell your friends to do the same because if we don’t take the lead, no one else will. 

  • [My mentor] Allan Gurganus taught me how to write, which was extremely helpful. I tried to follow his example of hard work, though never came close to matching his sense of elegance and style. He is a very generous soul. I didn’t match him there either but he taught me a great deal.

  • My favorite piece of Gurganus advice was that I must always steer the ship of my own career and not assume anyone else was looking after things as I would. If my name was on the book then I must agree with every aspect of it. This has been hugely important to me.

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