Sage Advice

The stars – they’re just like us! In his speech at the Whiting Writers Award ceremony on October 21, Tony Kushner shared his own struggles with writing to a room of up-and-coming authors.

“I’m utterly unsuited to the task of telling you how to live a happy, disciplined writer’s life. I’m a slow reader, a deliberate tortoise of a thinker rather than the intellectual gazelle I would like to be; I’m undisciplined and unhappy writing and expect to be until the writing stops. I find a remarkable number of things to do in a day much more compelling than writing. I could give you absolutely sterling advice on how to avoid writing, how when you run out of things to do other than going to your desk and writing, when every closet is reorganized and you’ve called your oldest living relative twice in one day to see what she’s up to and there isn’t an unanswered e-mail left on your computer or you simply can’t bear to answer another one and there is no dignity, not a drop left, in any further evasion of the task at hand, namely writing, well, you can always ask your dentist for a root canal or have an accident in the bathtub instead.”

Kushner, who is probably best known for his play Angels in America, also discusses the difference between playwrights and “litwriters”, styles of writing, and why anyone should write in the first place. You can read his full speech, “We Call That Failure Art” in the New Yorker.

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