Robert Olen Butler, winner of F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award, talks writing

Whatever kind of writer you are, learning about writing from “the white hot center” and considering “yearning” will give you food for thought. Robert Olen Butler talks with Professor Jarvis Slacks of Montgomery College about his writing process.

Here’s an over-simplified working method for writing a la Butler:

First, kill your ego.

Second, be patient because you’ll write a lot of terrible things at first. That’s cool.

Third, meditate, trance, dreamstorm yourself out of your brain.

Fourth, write every day straight into the white hot center (where yearning lives).

Repeat

Bob Butler is my adviser at Florida State University where I’m working on my MFA and my first novel, tentatively titled Zenith, and holy hell, thank goodness for that because I have no idea what I’m doing. He has helped me tremendously in workshops and as a thesis chair. His book, edited by Janet Burroway, From Where you Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction explores these approaches in detail.

“To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.” –Akira Kurosawa

So, a contributing editor nominated “We Rise Up” in Narrative Magazine for a Pushcart Prize. What?

I’ve been sitting on my good news for a while, mainly because I kept thinking, “Yeah, but, I’m sure it’s a mistake,” or “He was just being nice and I don’t really deserve it so I shouldn’t really tell anyone,” and “What?”. But after talking it over with genius friends, it became apparent that to say nothing would be really quite silly. So that’s it. The story, “We Rise Up” (Opre Roma) was Narrative’s “Story of the Week” back in August, and  I’m honored to the point of extreme awkwardness. And this Pushcart season is especially exciting because a bunch of super talented FSU writers were also nominated and everyone should read their stuff!

Much, much love to everyone, especially all my workshops! I’ve had a lot of smart people say smart things to help me out, and that particular piece came from my first MFA workshop with Robert Olen Butler.