Literary Birthday - 16 June - Joyce Carol Oates

Happy Birthday, Joyce Carol Oates, born 16 June 1938

Joyce Carol Oates - Writing Advice

  1. Don’t try to anticipate an “ideal reader” – there may be one, but he/she is reading someone else.
  2. Don’t try to anticipate an “ideal reader” – except for yourself perhaps, sometime in the future.
  3. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
  4. Unless you are writing something very avant-garde – all gnarled, snarled and “obscure” – be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
  5. Unless you are writing something very post-modernist – self-conscious, self-reflexive and “provocative” – be alert for possibilities of using plain familiar words in place of polysyllabic “big” words.
  6. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
  7. Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.

This advice first appeared in The Guardian

12 Joyce Carol Oates Quotes

  1. I never change, I simply become more myself.
  2. Life and people are complex. A writer as an artist doesn’t have the personality of a politician. We don’t see the world that simply.
  3. I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.
  4. Anyone who teaches knows that you don’t really experience a text until you’ve taught it, in loving detail, with an intelligent and responsive class.
  5. Before you can write a novel you have to have a number of ideas that come together. One idea is not enough.
  6.  I think all art comes out of conflict. When I write I am always looking for the dramatic kernel of an event, the junctures of people’s lives when they go in one direction, not another.
  7. If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework — you can still be writing, because you have that space.
  8. The written word, obviously, is very inward, and when we’re reading, we’re thinking. It’s a sort of spiritual, meditative activity. When we’re looking at visual objects, I think our eyes are obviously directed outward, so there’s not as much reflective time. And it’s the reflectiveness and the spiritual inwardness about reading that appeals to me.
  9. When people say there is too much violence in [my books], what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.
  10. When I complete a novel I set it aside, and begin work on short stories, and eventually another long work. When I complete that novel I return to the earlier novel and rewrite much of it. In the meantime the second novel lies in a desk drawer.
  11. I used to think getting old was about vanity — but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial.
  12. Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.

Oates is an American author of more than 40 novels, a number of plays and novellas, many short stories. She also writes poetry and nonfiction. She has won many awards for her writing, including the National Book Award, and the National Humanities Medal. 

Source for Image

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