Monday, October 13, 2008
Have I mentioned lately that George Saunders is this atheist's God? We saw him last week at City Arts and Lectures with our friend Amy. (He's also coming to Stanford in February.) He was of course funny and passionate, and he gave the following advice to someone in an MFA program: write what only you can write. It sounds like a variation on "write what you know," but it isn't. He went on to relate his experience, which I share, of discovering to one's dismay that one's best writing is funny. Which leads one to worry that one is "just" a comic writer or a humor writer or a satirist, as if humor were not also deeply serious. I love Saunders' work because it is so relevant, whereas more earnest-seeming pieces often aren't. It may often be the case that the kind of writer you most fear being is the one you are.