The Mark Blog

Bookmark This: Hanif Kureishi Thinks You Might Be Asking The Wrong Questions

In this Telegraph essay, British author and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (IntimacyThe BodyThe Last Wordargues that writers, by spending too much time on the safe questions of plot and dialogue, are missing the importance of digging deep into the imagination and the "useful trouble" it may offer.

“If you think of the real thing – of, say, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, or Wilde’s Dorian Gray, or perhaps Cheever’s great story “The Swimmer”, or Kafka’s Metamorphosis, or any of the work of Carver or Plath – you have to begin to think about the wild implausibility, boldness, and brilliance of the artist’s idea or metaphor rather than the arrangement of paragraphs.”
 
 
 

Writers' Reel: Happy Birthday, Toni Morrison!

Today marks Toni Morrison’s 83rd birthday, author of BelovedSula, and Song of Solomon. Last December, Morrison sat down with author Junot Diaz for a compelling conversation for Live from the New York Public Library. Celebrate Morrison’s birthday as she speaks about writing what you don’t know and how characters are like ghosts.

“The act of writing for me is you really do get to know the characters really well. For me, they are sort of like ghosts. I know what they look like although I may not describe them. They talk.” — Toni Morrison

 

Bookmark This: Share PEN Center USA’s Literary Valentines


Don't have time to buy flowers? Give the gift of literature to your beloved. PEN Center USA has created special literary valentines by using quotations from great books. From Anaïs Nin to Ernest Hemingway, let these writers do all the heavy work for you. Be sweet to your valentine this year by sending them one. Just download the images below, share, post, and tweet all you want. Happy Valentine’s Day!
 
All landscape images courtesy of Stacy Valis.
 

 

 

 

Writers’ Reel: Maurice Sendak on Writing for Children

"Where The Wild Things Are" cover image

In this endearing animated video produced by Blank on Blank, the late children’s book author Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) talks about not shying away from writing the barbaric in children’s books and how his uncensored family spurred his creative life.

“I’ve always had a deep respect for children and how they solve complex problems by themselves. [They survive] I think through shrewdness, fantasy and just plain strength. They want to survive.”
 

 

For more animated videos by Blank on Blank, click here.

 

 

Bookmark This: Get Inspired With 30 Haruki Murakami Quotes

The folks behind Thought Catalog have compiled a great roundup of quotes from acclaimed author Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleNorwegian Wood1Q84, and so many more groundbreaking literary works). Be moved by some of Murakami’s words of wisdom including gems like:

"Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting." Haruki Murakami

Read the rest of the quotes here.

 

Writers’ Reel: Margaret Atwood on Writing Exposition

 

Author Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s TaleThe Year of the Flood, and, her latest, MaddAdam) chats with Big Think about the difficulties of writing exposition. The author of speculative fiction breaks down what a writer should do when writing exposition with a goal of making the text appear seamless. Atwood also talks about her love of writing poetry and pushing against being pigeonholed as a fiction writer.

"The [hardest] parts of the novel are the parts when you know there are parts that the reader has to know but it’s not very interesting for you to write. Those are the parts that I don’t like. If you are competent enough, they won’t be able to tell which of those parts we are hoping the readers will not notice. We hope. We are always hoping.” – Margaret Atwood

Bookmark This: Gabriel Garcia Marquez on Using Journalism Tricks

This week’s Bookmark This! features the acclaimed author Gabriel Garcia Marquez in an extended interview with the Paris Review. The Nobel Prize-winning author explains how his career in journalism shaped his fiction and gives interesting tips on how to incorporate journalistic style into the fantastical. 

“…if I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it’s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told. Pablo Neruda has a line in a poem that says “God help me from inventing when I sing.” It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.”
 
 
 

Writers' Reel: Quick Hit Insights From our Favorite Authors

On Writers’ Reel this week, we take a look at the PBS show Charlie Rose. The TV talk show host and journalist has invited many celebrated authors to sit and converse about their process. This 13-minute video features clips of Joan Didion, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, and more.

“A book is somebody’s best self. I’m better when I’m writing. I’m more considerate. I'm more humane. You’re trying to write about other people, you’re not thinking about yourself." Zadie Smith 

Watch Zadie Smith talk about the power of words and Joan Didion confess to facing difficulty in writing novels.  

 

To view more Charlie Rose interviews, click here.

Bookmark This: 35 Essential Short Story Collections

Flavorwire recently published their definitive list of the “35 Perfect Examples of the Art of The Short Story.” The feature includes an eclectic mix of classic choices like Anton Chekov and Ernest Hemingway and not-so-obvious newcomers like Kelly Lynch and Claire Vaye Watkins. Which short story collection do you think is missing from the list? Sound off below!
 

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver

"The book that launched a million blog posts titled 'What We Talk About…' (but don’t blame it for that, please), Raymond Carver’s 1981 book is one of the most important collections of the 20th century, complete with all the hard luck, bad relationships, and occasional death for which the author is known and, yes, loved.”

Who Do You Think You Are?, Alice Munro

"How do you pick just one book by the 2013 Nobel Prize winner who has made a career out of writing short fiction? A difficult task, no doubt, but this 1978 volume that uses one single character as the centerpiece and splinters out from there is a uniquely interesting — and successful — experiment in short fiction."

Check out the rest of the list here.

 
 
 

Writers’ Reel: Tom Perrotta on The Fallacy of Writing What You Know

Author Tom Perrotta (Election, Little Children) takes on the age-old advice of writing what you know in this candid discussion for Big Think. He also talks about his process in writing his 1998 novel Election, a novel that was adapted for film starring Reese Witherspoon.

“If you are lucky you’ll eventually find a voice or find a subject matter that you’re passionate about. That to me is really the crucial thing, somehow having your work connect with your obsessions and your passions.”