Happy Birthday, Amy Hempel, born 14 December 1951
- I want to know everything about you, so I tell you everything about myself.
- A story happens when two equally appealing forces, or characters, or ideas try to occupy the same place at the same time, and they’re both right.
- Transitions are usually not that interesting. I use space breaks instead, and a lot of them.
- Sometimes I can better describe a person by another person’s reaction. In a story in my first book, I couldn’t think of a way to sufficiently describe the charisma of a certain boy, so the narrator says, “I knew girls who saved his gum.”
- I get rational when I panic.
- I’ll turn a sentence over endlessly in my head before it hits the page. By the time it’s on the page, it’s pretty likely to stay there.
- Journalism taught me how to write a sentence that would make someone want to read the next one. You are trained to get rid of anything non-essential. You go in, you start writing your article, assuming a person’s going to stop reading the minute you give them a reason. So the trick is: don’t give them one.
- A love affair begins with a fantasy. For instance, that the beloved will always be there.
- There’s so much I can’t read because I get so exasperated. Someone starts describing the character boarding the plane and pulling the seat back. And I just want to say, Babe, I have been downtown. I have been up in a plane. Give me some credit.
- There’s no such thing as luck. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
- [My mother] read constantly, so I read constantly. If I used words that might have seemed surprising at a young age, she would recognise that and it would please her. We could talk about what we read—that was safe territory. This was the way I had a chance of getting her approval. Language. Language and literature.
- Wear your heart on the page, and people will read to find out how you solved being alive.
- I started writing by doing small related things but not the thing itself, circling it and getting closer. I had no idea how to write fiction. So I did journalism because there were rules I could learn. You can teach someone to write a news story. They might not write a great one, but you can teach that pretty easily.
- Dreams: the place most of us get what we need.
- I’ve always known when I start a story what the last line is. It’s always been the case, since the first story I ever wrote. I don’t know how it’s going to get there, but I seem to need the destination. I need to know where I end up. It never changes, ever.
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