Friday, November 23, 2012

Writing Inspiration and Positive Thoughts: Tony Kushner on Writing

From the Fresh Air Interview
DAVIES: I read that when you wrote the screenplay, you gathered just the right fountain pens and notebooks. Is this true? What's the role of that?
 KUSHNER: I write everything with fountain pens. I don't know why. I've done it since I was bar mitzvahed. I was given a fountain pen, a Parker fountain pen, and I loved it, and I've never liked writing anything with pencils or ball-points. I just can't stand it. I love - fountain pens have a very expressive line. When you're upset, and you're writing really, really hard, it gets thicker and darker, and when you're tentative, it's thinner and more spidery, and, you know...
 DAVIES: So it wasn't putting you in the 19th century, you didn't don a wig or anything?

KUSHNER: No, no, I keep notebooks, and I write in - I find it, you know, I'm 56 years old, and I find it easier to write when I'm first pulling things together, with a pen and paper. The computer, the noise of the computer feels like impatience. It's sort of the sound of impatience to me. And I like having a paper trail of what I've crossed out because sometimes I go back and realize that I shouldn't have done that. It's just a more natural way for me to write. I'm sure I'm, you know, of the last generation that will ever say anything like that.
And some other positive thoughts for the end of the semester:

  • Instead of thinking how much you haven't gotten done with only a few weeks left, think about what you have gotten done.  Among other things, you can answer our former president's immortal question "Is our children learning?" with "yes, they are." 
  • Even if the weather is bad, a short walk in the fresh air, even if it's just around the block, will help.
  • It's a time of year when you may feel that you don't have a lot of choices, but you really do.
    • For example, in most meals, there's something you really want to eat (food excitement!) and the rest of it is just food-because-it's-there. Eat the food excitement first--for me this is usually salad, which I love--and refrigerate the rest. Eat it later if you're hungry. Or not.
    • If something makes you unhappy, like checking Facebook, stop checking it even if everyone is pressuring you to do otherwise. 
  • Stop and think about what you're doing before you do it. You may have to check email, but you don't have to do so as a reflexive move first thing in the morning; you can choose not to check it on the weekends and the world will still exist. I think of it this way: why choose to take on someone else's thoughts and problems before you've had a chance to think about your own? 


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

"why choose to take on someone else's thoughts and problems before you've had a chance to think about your own?"

Why, indeed?

What Now? said...

Positive thoughts indeed -- exactly what I needed to read as I'm gearing up for what I'm hoping will be a fresh start post-Thanksgiving.

sophylou said...

"why choose to take on someone else's thoughts and problems before you've had a chance to think about your own?"

I've been thinking about taking a break from Facebook/Twitter--especially Twitter--for exactly this reason. It's starting to feel I'm only hearing others' voices drowning out my own.

undine said...

Dame Eleanor--I've tried to make that my mantra when I feel the urge to check email.

WN--I'm hoping for that fresh start, too!

sophylou--"drowning out my own"--exactly! Twitter and Facebook both do that to me, too, which is why I've been avoiding them despite their usefulness.