On Amplification and Other Questions

Published by Linda L. Richards on

Jami AttenbergToday on her stellar “Craft Talk” substack newsletter, Jami Attenberg talks, among other things, about questions writers should be asking themselves. Things like:

In the past I have had students ask me if I think they should quit their day jobs and focus on their writing. It almost always feels like a horse before a cart situation. The list of questions we should be asking ourselves as writers before we can get to that point is long.

I’m talking about: Should this book be in first person or third and do I need to start all over again to see which one works better? Is my language amplified enough? Am I writing with enough empathy? Does the middle of my book sag? Does the beginning of the book entice? Do I believe in love? Do I believe in ghosts? Have I blurred the line enough between the real-life person I’m fictionalizing and their corresponding character? Am I landing every sentence, idea and feeling? Am I reading enough poetry?

The piece is ostensibly aimed at writers wondering if they should quit their job. (Answer: yes. Maybe. It depends.) For me it created a beautiful touchstone I plan on coming back to at certain points of my own writing. We all need to remember: amplification. Empathy. Sagging bits and so on. And since I’m creating a touchstone, I thought I’d share it here. That way I’ll know where it is and we can enjoy it together.

Attenberg (All This Could Be Yours, I Came All This Way to Meet You) is sharp, funny and trenchant. Her books are everywhere, but you can subscribe to her newsletter here. ◊


Categories: Writing Life