Happy Birthday, Sue Miller, born 29 November 1943
- I am a plotter. I like to know where I’m going. Certainly detours happen, but I feel as though I want the book to have a kind of resonance. That the whole book participates in all of the book, essentially, so I know how it’s going to end up when I begin.
- I think it’s fair to say that’s what a fiction writer is most often drawn to — tumult of one kind or another; and in that sense the family in the last quarter century seems to me to be among the most fascinating of human social or economic inventions—more than business or real estate, no matter what Tom Wolfe says, more than the church or the law or the hospital.
- My writing life is always a bit disorganised. It’s hard for me to get going, but sometimes, once I begin, I go like the wind.
- I’ve certainly been made the writer I am by what I’ve lived through — who hasn’t? Though I hope as much as any writer does that all of it has been transformed by the dream-like remaking of life that happens when you create a story.
- Women who write serious fiction believe that life doesn’t change that much, that we all struggle perennially with the same old painful issues that are true for all people: how to deal with unexplained suffering, how to survive a sorrowful universe, how to heal yourself, how to restore yourself when that seems difficult and impossible (given what life deals out to people). That’s not a very revolutionary approach to take—to speak of sorrow and suffering as inevitable and as part of the human condition. And yet all serious writers have always spoken that way.
- The steadier part of my life is the technical aspect. I always write my first draft in longhand, in lined notebooks. I move around the house, sitting where I like, and watch the words spool out in front of me, actually taking a lot of pleasure in the way they look in my strange handwriting on the page. I have a certain cheap pen I like and buy by the dozen at Bob Slate, a local stationer. Stylist. Black ink. Fine point.
- …the words make our silences easier—they’re the current that runs under them.
Sue Miller is an American writer. Two of her novels have been made into feature films, and her book While I Was Gone was an Oprah’s Book Club pick in 2000. Her latest novel is The Arsonist. She is a professor at Smith College, where she teaches creative writing classes.
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