arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life
more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly is a way to make
your soul grow, for heaven's sake.“ – Kurt Vonnegut
I read a great story about a young woman who had kept a letter from Kurt Vonnegut – the only “big name” writer to respond to her and her elementary school classmates when they wrote notes to a number of them to ask their advice on writing. He not only replied but also said he was honored that they thought of him and that his advice was simple: Always strive to fulfill your dreams and just do your very best with any writing you tried. That, he said, would make their writing successful.
Born on this date in 1922, Vonnegut authored 14 best-selling novels (several made into movies), 2 novellas, 9 collections of short stories, 7 plays, and 10 nonfiction books in his remarkable 50-year career. He died in 2007 with a basketful of writing awards, including being a Science Fiction & Fantasy Hall of Fame honoree.
While many of his works and dark humor resonated with readers around the globe, it was his masterpiece anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse Five, that brought him lasting fame. After the book’s publication he was a much-sought-after speaker and writing coach and was especially popular as a commencement speaker. His book, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? Advice to the Young, is a wonderful compilation of some of those speeches where he entertains, inspires, and conveys his thoughts on the momentousness of life.
“I want to stand as close to the
edge as I can without going over,” he once said. “Out on the edge you see all the kinds of
things you can't see from the center.”
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