- Guernica: What’s your writing process like?
- Gary Shteyngart: I work in bed. I wake up around 11:00 a.m., do a little writing, maybe some breakfast. Go to sleep. See my shrink, cry a little, have dinner with some friends, couple of drinks, go right back to sleep.
- It’s important to brush one’s teeth, that’s my only advice. That wakes you up a lot, and even if you’re just writing, your breath should be better than it was when you woke up. Sometimes the shower can wait a little bit. Depends on how fast you want to get to work.
An angsty Catherine for your Friday.
Hey, remember how great Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were in this movie?
Even witches are excited about books!
When Neal Gabler isn’t busy working on his forthcoming biography of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, or writing for Vanity Fair, Esquire, Playboy, Newsweek, Vogue, or a slew of other media outlets, he teaches classes on film criticism, biography, and writing to sell, at Stony Brook Southampton.
His latest article is about the Oscars and our national guilt:
The Oscars, which will be presented Sunday, do something more than honor the “best” films. They give us a glimpse into ourselves. Our movies, especially those that strike a national nerve, as Oscar nominees often do, are an expression of the nation’s collective consciousness, providing what you might call an annual Oscar State of the Union. They tell us where we stand. And this year’s State of the Union seems consumed with one issue: guilt.
When you look at the nine Best Picture nominees, you discover that the majority are not only deeply ambivalent about the United States, but that they suggest we Americans aren’t all that comfortable with ourselves either. We doubt ourselves and our values — even those things we ostensibly celebrate. We feel conflicted. We are haunted by guilt, consumed by remorse.
Read the rest of it here.
Honest observation about what it’s like to write a book that doesn’t achieve the kind of success you hope, and how to try, try again.
MY FIRST CLUE THAT MY BOOK WOULD NOT BE A BESTSELLER came in a marketing meeting about six months prior to publication. Actually there were several clues in that meeting. The first came when a marketing assistant suggested that I start a blog, and I had to explain that her bosses had acquired my book in part because I was a well-known blogger. The second came when my publicist asked how I thought they should position my book. She rattled off a short list of commercially successful essay collections by funny, quirky female writers like Sloane Crosley, Laurie Notaro, and Julie Klam. Books with “Cake” and “Girls” in the title and jokey subtitles.
Having worked at a publishing house, I know that it’s not possible for everyone who works at a publishing house to read all the books coming out that season, or even parts of them, or even the descriptions of them in the catalog or in-house “tip sheets.” But I also know that if a book is supposed to be a “big” book, everyone in the office will read it. I was a young woman, so of course they had lumped me in with the cake-girl books. But my book was not cakey. I had no idea how to explain this to people. I clearly still don’t. Knowing how obnoxious it would sound, but feeling I had to say it anyway, if only to have said it, I told them that they had to “go all out.” “Say that I’m the voice of my generation,” I told them. They looked at me like I’d emitted a long, loud, smelly fart. And so—swear to god—I amended what I’d said:
“Okay, say I’m a voice of my generation.”
Imagine me three years later, watching the premiere of Girls for free on YouTube and reaching the scene in which Lena Dunham, whose character is writing a book of autobiographical essays and trying to convince her parents that she needs to stay on the teat to finish it. “I think that I may be the voice of my generation,” Dunham says, bravely and unconvincingly, and then amends herself: “or at least a voice of a generation.” It’s a great scene, the elevator pitch for the whole groundbreaking show. She turned her life into art—award-winning, apartment-buying, wildly popular art—which is something I’m still trying to do. Watching her do it has been excruciating. That could have been me, I catch myself thinking, but of course it couldn’t have been, or at least it isn’t.
Emily Gould is former Gawker co-editor. Her books include the memoir, And The Heart Says Whatever, and the forthcoming novel, Friendship, published by Farrar, Strous and Giroux.