Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another Alice: "[...] being home when your guest is expected"

From: Smart Chick's Network

Alice Walker in conversation with Writer's Digest:

"So you don’t force yourself to maintain a writing routine?"

     "This has changed a bit, but for, I would say, three decades, I wrote every morning, or I made the space. Because part of writing is not so much that you’re going to actually write something every day, but what you should have, or need to have, is the possibility, which means the space and the time set aside—as if you were going to have someone come to tea. If you are expecting someone to come to tea but you’re not going to be there, they may not come, and if I were them, I wouldn’t come. So, it’s about receptivity and being home when your guest is expected, or even when you hope that they will come."

     "Publishing has changed dramatically since you released your first book, and you’ve worked with a number of houses, big and small. What are the most positive and negative changes you’ve seen?"

     "I was with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for 25 years, I think, or more. And what I liked was having a close relationship with my editors—they seemed to really be there, fully embodied. They had a perspective about the world, and also a real connection to me and my work. And I think that that has changed. I don’t know many people who have that anymore."

     "Do you feel that writers suffer because of that?"

     "I do, especially early on. I think early on it’s really nice to have someone older, nurturing, thoughtful, well experienced in the ways of the world, and in the publishing world, too, just to guide one.
     [Also], the way the larger publishing houses are morphing into corporate structures, that’s a problem for people of conscience, because often you just don’t know what your publisher’s doing in the world, and it could be pretty bad.
     I think it’s important to support smaller publishers, which is why I’ve gone to smaller publishers lately, like The New Press, which has a really fine list and cares about the world, and not so much about the bottom line. Of course, they suffer, and writers suffer, because the bottom line is important. People have to survive and, if possible, thrive, and it’s hard to do if you’re not being sufficiently supported financially by your work."

[...]

     "What advice would you most like to offer writers today?"

     "The most healthy thing is to be true to your own self, quoting—who was it, Hamlet?—but also, that you have a right to express what you see and what you feel and what you think. To be bold. To be as bold with your vision as you can possibly be. Our salvation, to the extent that we have one, will come out of people realizing the crisis of our species and of the planet and offering their deepest dream of what’s possible."
Writer's Digest
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