A Long Emergency

“I always wake with sentences pouring into my head. So getting to my desk every day feels like a long emergency. It’s a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can’t begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.”

I don’t really do favorites. But. Barbara Kingsolver is one my favorite writers.


I was fortunate enough to hear her speak last month at the National Cathedral, and I’ll say this, corny though it may be – it was a fitting setting, that sanctuary, in which to hear a contemporary prophet speak and read from her new book. She would blanch at such a notion, so I guess lucky for me she’ll never see this.

National Cathedral nave, where I saw Barbara Kingsolver speak.

National Cathedral nave, and the podium from which Kingsolver spoke. Photography was not allowed during the event.

Barbara sponsors the biennial Bellwether Prize for Fiction which, in 2012, became the PEN/Bellwether Prize. The prize goes “To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice” and includes a contract with Algonquin Books. Kingsolver personally funds (or at least she used to) the $25,000 award. If anyone is looking for holiday gifts or just for something good to read, the Bellwether winners are a perfect starting place.

Kingsolver is currently on a book tour promoting her latest novel, Flight Behavior, which I’ll read when it comes out in paperback. There are plenty of interviews with her about the novel, this one with Diane Rehm for instance. But the most interesting piece I’ve read is from the Daily Beast’s How I Write series, in which Barbara repeats some of the things she said* the evening I heard her speak. It’s a lovely interview.

*Some of the things she said that are not reproduced in the interview:
-The real art is revision.
-Organizing your life around what is expected of you is really just marketing – or childhood, ideally.
-Fiction is made of details that other people didn’t notice.

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One Response to A Long Emergency

  1. Pingback: In Stacks on the Stairs | Randa's Fans

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