Or, Lily’s favorite quote about writing
Today is one of those days I don’t have much to say, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite pieces of advice/perspectives on writing.
“Nothing bad ever happens to a writer; they just say ‘it’s an experience’ and go write about it.” ~Garrison Keillor
I can’t tell you how much I love that quote. I picked it up off an episode of Prairie Home Companion some 12-15 years ago (I can’t possibly tell you which episode it was). My mom loves PHC, and since it was the one thing she demanded she get to listen to every week on the radio, I often heard the show. Never enough to become a huge fan, but certainly enough to develop a fond appreciation for the show, looking back. And enough in at least this one case to pick up a life motto.
I am sure the quote could be taken as flippant, but I don’t think that’s the intention. Simply, every time anything happens to someone who writes, it becomes a life experience than can be channeled (or cannibalized) for a story. So every time I felt left out of my peer group at school…every time a boy didn’t like me…every time I did something mean that I was later ashamed of…all of them, everything I do and everything I am, eventually become threads that I can weave into a story. As I’ve noted before, the fictional use may be such a fun-house-mirror distortion that the inspiring incident is unrecognizable, but yet it is there.
And that is why bad things don’t happen to writers. Life can hurt or be cruel or make no sense to writers…it can be tragic and devastating and bleak. But, upon coming out the far side of hell, a writer will find a use and therefore a value in that negative experience.
It’s the same idea my grandmother instilled about taking every negative as a learning experience, and remembering that I would not be capable of making the good decisions I am if I hadn’t learned from my bad ones. My gran is a very smart lady.
So is Garrison Keillor.