I loved this bit of JD DeHart’s interview with American writer and poet PW Covington. It’s the same advice I’d give to any (young, not so young) writer (except the drugs thing, which to me is just a pose – le poète maudit kind of thing). So the question was: “What advice do you have for young writers? And here came the answer: “Do young writers listen to advice? Do any writers?
My only advice is GET OUT THERE, and LIVE!
You can apply talent to experience, and you can take years or decades to do it…don’t be in a hurry to scrawl or spit. Just let living be enough, follow no rules, laws, or discipline except those you freely choose. Make mistakes… big ones. Fuck safety, eschew comfort. Go to the places that scare you, live among people you have been conditioned to see as “enemies.” Suffer. Earn scars. Take lovers, do drugs, build things with your hands, go to sea, climb a mountain, learn to live with less. Avoid “advice.”
At some point, if you’ve been touched, warped, or led in the right way, you’ll sit down one day and pick up a pen. If that never happens, then, no worries, at least you’ve been out there doing the things. Failure isn’t just an option, it’s an opportunity. Learn to fail.
To write, to tell a story, you’ve GOT to have a story worth telling. I think we all do, but I also believe that it takes most of us many miles and many years to understand that.”
Ah, and by the way, I also subscribe to the bit re “inspiration = compulsion=border-crossing communication”. The question was: “What inspires you to write?” PW Covington’s answer: “Inspiration is a strange word. Some claim that if you “wait to be inspired” you’ll end up not writing at all. I feel like, I’ve always been driven more by compulsion than inspiration. Writing is how I dance with my demons and serenade my angels. see writing…all artistic creation, really, but, especially writing, as a way for my ideas and experiences to spread beyond my personal, lived, experience.
Every word we write, when it is read by another human being, can build a bridge…across distance, across social divides, across time itself. Writing is a very intimate way to communicate. We each can’t go everywhere and do everything, but, we CAN share our insights and observations through the written word, as we appreciate those of others when we read.”
Full interview here