Excavating every little thing you love for your readers


I just started Rivka Galchen’s new book, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch.

As I’m reading, I’m noticing Rivka Galchen clearly loves her main character—the mother—to pieces.

In fact, I’m starting to suspect this entire book came into existence so that Galchen could construct NOT the most perfect or best mother literary character ever, but a literary character who embodies every single thing Galchen herself loves about mothering and loves about other mothers and about the qualities Galchen loves seeing in herself when she mothers.

Every loving thing.

Imagine writing a whole book just so you could spend a year immersed in all the details you love about some person, or about some concept. Or about yourself.

Fuckin’ eh, right? What’s that book?

And sure there’s conflict and pain in Rivka’s (can I call you Rivka, Rivka?) novel. Events escalate. Drama ensues.

But I work with a lot of new writers who think that the more painful the story, the more painful it will be to tell that story. And the more painful it is to tell the story, the more they’re doing their job as a writer.

Pain demonstrates accomplishment. Everything worth doing is a struggle we overcome.

Honestly, yes, I work with these writers and also I am this writer. My default approach to writing is to sit in the struggle.

So this week I’m asking myself, “What does my work look like when I’m digging into the nooks and crannies of my subject to excavate every little thing I love and putting all that on display for the reader? What does it feel like to do that kind of work?”

— M

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