The Days of Yore Stream of Consciousness

Your favorite interview site stripped down and ready to re-blog, re-tweet, re-everything.

Find our full site with every single Yore at www.thedaysofyore.com

Listen to what the wise man says.

CHARLES BAXTER, WRITER, SAGE

What do people not ask you that you feel they ought to?

As a writer, if you go into an undergraduate class or even a high school class, kids will ask, “Why do you write?” It seems puzzling to them, as if you had been given an assignment. Whenever they ask that, I say, “It just seems perfectly natural to me. It always has.” As an activity, it seems like something I’m suited for, the way it seems natural to a musician to play the piano. Nobody has ever said, “Does it seem natural to you to write?” because, I think, for most people it doesn’t.

We’re in a culture where a lot of people don’t even like to read, so it seems even weirder to them that somebody would not only want to write, but feel comfortable doing it. But that’s the other thing that sustains you in your twenties and thirties, that feeling of, “This is something I can do, something I’m really good at.” Even if a publisher doesn’t buy it or you don’t land an agent right away, you still think, “Well, I think I’m good at this.”

Charles Baxter!

Charles Baxter is on the Yore today! He’s pretty darn smart:

I talk to my students a lot about writing stories in which time is going to run out. If your characters have all the time in the world to do what they need to do, it reduces the urgency in the narrative. But if there’s a clock ticking and they have to do something by a certain time, it produces a sense of urgency. Hamlet and Macbeth and King Lear all begin with a request moment. Somebody says to somebody else, “There’s something I want you to do—” and often that comes with a deadline: “—And I want you to do it by tomorrow.”

Speaking loosely of time, how did you—and how do you—manage to find time and solitude to write?

Often when you’re in your twenties and thirties, maybe even your early forties, you have enough energy for that. You make time. You get up earlier, you stay up later. You just do it. It’s when you get into your forties that you have to start being careful about not agreeing to do too many other things, because you’re not going to have that kind of energy. You have to stop being agreeable.

It’s not a bad idea to learn to be disagreeable in your twenties and thirties, so that you get used to the idea that some people are not going to think that you’re nice. When somebody asks you to do something, you say, “No, I can’t do it.” “Why can’t you do it?” “I’m writing.” “Well,” they’ll say, “That’s not very nice.” And you just have to say, “Too bad. I’m sorry. That’s what I do.”

Read the full interview here:

http://www.thedaysofyore.com/charles-baxter/

And look how mysterious and wise he looks among the leaves:

New York, New York

A declaration of love for a city that can be so gritty, so difficult, so frustrating at times, but that nonetheless sets you free.

I guess you could say that New York was my salvation. It was so fantastic to, in theory, be able to start all over again— even in reality. I mean, I could just decide to be someone else. It was such a sense of freedom, to just put some distance between myself and everything that was too close. And I thought there was a kind of generosity in New York, a kind of openness, you didn’t put people in boxes right away. Maybe that happened anyway with time, but that initial curiosity… I felt like I could rearrange things that had previously ruled my entire life.

I thought I had greater freedom to try things on a purely artistic level. And I was just one in the crowd, I could blend in. There was a kind of peace in that anonymity. Strangely enough— and I still feel this way— it didn’t feel that competitive.


From this week’s DoY interview with painter Sigrid Sandström.

So much beauty, so much ice.

Images from our interview with painter Sigrid Sandström to fill your Tuesday with beauty and ice.

A Northern Painter Shares Her Story

SIGRID SANDSTRÖM

Today on the Yore, we are featuring a new interview with a jaw-dropping painter- one of my personal favorite contemporary artists, in fact. Sigrid Sandström: Swedish born, American educated, world famous. The interview is particularly fun to peruse because of the dozen or so images of Sandström’s work that intersperses her candid tale of illness, self-doubt, and finally figuring things out.

Here is a snippet:

What was life like for you during those years in New York?

I had graduated from Cooper Unions and had friends from there. I worked very methodically in my studio. I was there every day, and when I wasn’t in the studio, I was working as a waitress or with the Swedish family.

There was really nothing in Greenpoint at that time, and Williamsburg…it wasn’t as sketchy as it had been in the 80’s, but there was just one restaurant there, a little place called Planet Thai. By the time I left, the place had expanded over an entire block, but to begin with it was just two tables, almost like a take-out place. Other than that, there were regular delis. Nothing else. After a few years, a Mexican place came. And then the boom happened.

I guess you could say that New York was my salvation. It was so fantastic to, in theory, be able to start all over again— even in reality. I mean, I could just decide to be someone else. It was such a sense of freedom, to just put some distance between myself and everything that was too close. And I thought there was a kind of generosity in New York, a kind of openness, you didn’t put people in boxes right away. Maybe that happened anyway with time, but that initial curiosity… I felt like I could rearrange things that had previously ruled my entire life.

I thought I had greater freedom to try things on a purely artistic level. And I was just one in the crowd, I could blend in. There was a peace in that anonymity.

Read on for more great stories and inspiration:

http://www.thedaysofyore.com/sigrid-sandstrom/

Oh, and here is a taste of her gorgeous work too:

Kathryn Harrison, baby.

New interview on the Yore today, with bestselling writer Kathryn Harrison. She talks youth, hope, fear, and incest. Need more reason to read it? Didn’t think so.

Tell me about writing The Kiss.

Writing The Kiss was not an act of altruism. Not every reader says, “This book saved my life,” but some do, enough that it’s redemptive. It’s a wonderful thing to take some part of your life and turn it into something that actually helps somebody else. But that wasn’t why I wrote it. I was just trying to save myself. I had one way.

When I was involved with my father, I had stepped outside of human society. Sometimes I would look in the mirror, and I would be surprised to see just a girl there. In my mind, I had turned into a monster. But the person I saw wasn’t frightening, she was frightened, and very alone. There was only one way for me to get back over that line, back into human society, and that was to write the book. For many people I will never be back over that line. It’s a taboo broken. I can’t un-break it.

But writing the book freed you.

I had gone through this strange passage in my life that had taken me all the way down. I was always one of those people who was eager to please, and of course it was my father, and I hadn’t seen him in years, and he was a charismatic and manipulative person. And I was incapable of walking away from love or what appeared to be love or what somebody said was love in any form, and that meant that I allowed myself to be dismantled. Finally, I got down to the bottom, where I really was considering killing myself, and then I had to pick up the pieces.

When I put myself back together, there were a few things that I left out, like doing anything so that somebody would love me. I’m not that person anymore. My opinion of myself has been hard won. I know who I am, and I could give a flying fuck if somebody says Kathryn Harrison is a bad person. I just don’t care. I do care what people think about my work.

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW RIGHT O’R HERE!