Happy Birthday, Maria Semple, born 21 May 1964
- Being in writers’ rooms turns you feral. You are swearing, you are going to very dark, mean places. You start out in the room with all these smart people, and you’re all well-read and well-educated and the humour is really erudite. And then over the course of the year, after the production schedule grinds you down, it is just so mean and stupid.
- I spend my whole life trying to put up a front to prevent people from seeing certain parts of me. Weirdly, when I go to write, I feel like I have to expose it, almost compulsively.
- I’d say I never considered myself a great architect. I’m more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares.
- I think because I try to keep things as real as I can, or I try to start from a place of reality, I almost don’t have the imagination to write a book that’s not set where I am.
- After decades spent in rewrite rooms surrounded by other shouting writers, I discovered that I work best alone. I like being in charge of my time, working out the problems according to my own rhythms and being able to nap. That’s a big one, the napping on demand!
- People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.
- I don’t mean to ruin the ending for you, sweet child, but life is one long headwind. To make any kind of impact requires self-will bordering on madness. The world will be hostile, it will be suspicious of your intent, it will misinterpret you, it will inject you with doubt, it will flatter you into self-sabotage. My God, I’m making it sound so glamorous and personal! What the world is, more than anything? It’s indifferent…. But you have a vision. You put a frame around it. You sign your name anyway. That’s the risk. That’s the leap. That’s the madness: thinking anyone’s going to care.
- When I’m writing a book, I draw from my immediate experience, and my books are therefore almost a snapshot of where I am at that moment in my life.
- I keep an elaborate calendar for my characters detailing on which dates everything happens. I’m constantly revising this as I go along. It gives me the freedom to intricately plot my story, knowing it will at least hold up on a timeline.
- Anything I write I ask myself: Is it true, is it entertaining?
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