18 Comments

I love what you said about novels. It made them seem friendly and fun to write, much less intimidating. thanks

Expand full comment
Oct 16, 2023Liked by Jami Attenberg

I'm circling back in a weird way. Used to write creatively, especially poetry. I got my PhD in literature, so that meant more scholarly writing. With my second book, the things I enjoyed most were writing to a very specific, non-academic reader (my mother-in-law) and experimenting with form. I wrote a one-sentence paragraph! I put myself into the narrative at the end! That felt amazing. Now I'm trying to figure out how to write a book that's grounded in scholarly research but teeming with that fun experimentation throughout. It's fun but tough.

Expand full comment

At age 8, I aspired to be a famous novelist. Life and an inexplicable insurance sales career got in the way. If you’d told me I’d follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a foodwriter a half-century later, I’d have spit out my glass of Tang laughing. And if you’d told me I’d actually love writing about the intersection of food and writing, I’d have choked on my Space Food Sticks. And yet, here we are.

Expand full comment

I thought I would be a novelist when I first started writing, but most everything I have published in short form has been memoir (essays) or nonfiction (articles). I've written an unpublished novel, but I have had a memoir published. I keep learning and evolving, just as you wrote about. Exploring the limits, pushing the envelope. Getting stuck then unstuck. As to your always-inspiring letters to all of us, you have such a gift, it seems more like a calling. Thank you for sharing it with us here and in your new book (my review of 1000 Words is on my Substack and submitted to Net Galley, too).

Expand full comment

I started off thinking I wanted to be a fiction writer. I was briefly a journalist. I have long been an editor. I’ve done a handful of other writing gigs. All along, I filled up journals with nonfiction pieces I never saw as good enough to do anything with (and to a lesser extent attempts at nonfiction). Now, returning to those notebooks, some from decades ago, I’m finding gems among the nonfiction pieces I’m surprised to love, refurbishing them, and sharing them on my Substack. Aw, the evolution.

Expand full comment
founding
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Jami Attenberg

Yes! Evolving is everything. I started out as a journalist, and then I went into advertising. I’ve been told for *years* that it’s impossible for me to be a creative because I come from journalism. That’s a damn lie. 💕

Expand full comment

I was talking with a friend just this morning about how we’ve had trouble writing, because our agents have lost our trust. We’ve become bogged down with fear and annoyance. We both agreed it was time to get back to the “whys:” why do we write? Why did we start in the first place? Can we find that old joy again, the pleasure of discovery?

Expand full comment

Hi Jami, there’s so much permission in this post. Thank you 🙏🏽

I too grew up in Oprah book club era and didn’t want it, BUT, I LOVE to write.

I started my Substack to allow my writer to write and see where she takes me. She’s still exploring and I’m getting more and more ideas.

Thank you for describing a book as a collection of stories. They’re bubbling up to thanks to your 1000 word series.

Just thank you 🙏🏽

Expand full comment

So necessary right now. I've always been somebody who likes to play in more than one medium: plays, screenplays, essays, short fiction, and now...memoir. Lately, I've tried to buckle down and do *one* thing, and...I went stale and dry. That isn't gonna work with this Gemini, and I have to remind myself that, decades into my writing career. I want that early hunger that you talk about, and I need to play. I can't chase astonishment, but I can create conditions that might make it show up.

Expand full comment

I started out as a screenwriter, and now I write screenplays, plays and novels. 🤗🤗

Expand full comment
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Jami Attenberg

I started writing so I could talk to people who felt lost to me. Two things that have happened: I am much better at talking and people have died. Haven’t quite found those new itches but I’m working on it.

Expand full comment
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Jami Attenberg

I feel like a breakthrough came for me about a decade ago (also, it does not feel like a decade ago) when I realized I could include more surreal elements in my fiction and get weirder with it. There was a feeling of opening things up — like I'd regained access to a number of additional tools I'd been holding myself back from using before.

Expand full comment