Happy Birthday, Rick Bass, born 7 March 1958
- It can be daunting, visually, from the very beginning, for a reader to realise he or she must focus and engage non-stop on a paragraph that goes on nearly the length of the page. It’s what’s in the paragraph that matters, of course, but still, remember to let your reader breathe. Be interesting, and take care of your reader.
- There’s an enormous difference between being a story writer and being a regular person. As a person, it’s your duty to stay on a straight and even keel, not to break down blubbering in the streets, not to pull rude drivers from their cars, not to swing from the branches of trees. But as a writer it’s your duty to lie and to view everything in life, however outrageous, as an interesting possibility. You may need to be ruthless or amoral in your writing to be original. Telling a story straight from real life is only being a reporter, not a creator. You have to make your story bigger, better, more magical, more meaningful than life is, no matter how special or wonderful in real life the moment may have been.
- A novel that features real people is complicated, but in the end, that extra challenge is all for the good.
- To not pursue the thing one wants would be a waste of one’s life.
- I think a novelist must be more tender with living or ‘real’ people. The moral imperative of having been entrusted with their story looms before you every day, in every sentence.
- Write every day. Don’t ever stop. If you are unpublished, enjoy the act of writing—and if you are published, keep enjoying the act of writing. Don’t become self-satisfied, don’t stop moving ahead, growing, making it new. The stakes are high. Why else would we write?
Rick Bass is an award-winning American author. He has written Oil Notes, Winter: Notes from Montana, The Lost Grizzlies, Why I Came West: A Memoir, and many others. He received a PEN/Nelson Algren Award Special Citation for fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
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