I had the best time last night at The Rumpus Loves NY. It was great fun - great music, great comedy, great readers.
I got to interview Nick Flynn for a live installment of my Rumpus column. He is such a good sport - he had no idea what I was going to throw at him in front of a crowd of 300.
The interview was fun and funny, but I also managed to get a gem of a piece of writing advice out of him. I wish we’d recorded it, so I’d have his exact words, but it was something to this effect:
The stuff that’s hard and scary to write, that you’re afraid of publishing? Especially stuff you’re afraid will hurt other people’s feelings? You’ve got to let yourself write it. Take it out of your head and onto the page. Then, let some time pass. A little later on, you’ll have a better sense of which parts you should and shouldn’t publish.
I am not saying it nearly as well as he did. But basically, he said it was to his advantage that Another Bullshit Night in Suck City took him seven years to write. That time gave him perspective on some of the more “axe-grindy” (I think he actually used that term) stuff he’d written in the beginning - stuff he later removed. But he needed to write it - and then let some time pass - before he could know to remove it, and before he could write other parts of it.
This was really helpful for me. There’s stuff I’m afraid to commit to even a rough draft. But it is monopolizing important real estate in my brain, and blocking other stuff from getting through. So I’m just gonna write that shit, and then wait a while to see what I want to do with it.