If I could have anybody’s brain for just one day – or this evening if possible – it would be Amy Hempel’s.
“Some writers feel that when they write, there are people out there who just can’t wait to hear everything they have to say. But I go in with the opposite attitude, the expectation that they’re just dying to get away from me.”
“There’s no method. There’s no formula. If you really proceed a sentence at a time, if you pay attention to the sentence you just wrote and look to it for the clue for what to do to the next sentence, you can inch your way along to what may be a story. This wouldn’t have occurred to me starting out, for example, when I thought you wrote one sentence, then just looked out to the world trying to snag the next one. That’s not how it works. You look back at what you gave yourself to work with.”
“Wear your heart on the page, and people will read to find out how you solved being alive.” That was Gordon [Lish] twenty years ago, and that’s what I’m still trying to do.
From The Paris Review interview.