I always try to be alert to the potential for repetition, for a decaying orbit with regard to my use of technique, etc.— Jeff Vandermeer
The most belligerent Jeff Vandermeer quotes to get the best of your day
When you think about the complexity of our natural world - plants using quantum mechanics for photosynthesis, for example - a smartphone begins to look like a pretty dumb object.
Nothing that lived and breathed was truly objective—even in a vacuum, even if all that possessed the brain was a self-immolating desire for the truth.
There's also a lot of gritty Americana type of bands.
I actually have a lot of Britpop on my iPod, too.
I also am not particularly risk-averse - I don't mind jumping off a cliff if I trust the people who've told me they'll catch me at the bottom.
Film fixes a precise visual image in the viewer's head.
In fiction, you just hope you're precise enough to convey the intended effect.
Cross-pollination and "contamination" is really important to the health of fiction, and sometimes it's a literal conversation, too, in that writers who might never otherwise meet and talk do so because of our anthologies.
My best time to write is right after coffee and breakfast - four eggs because, full disclosure: I'm really a komodo dragon - and that's because then I'm energized but not so awake that the critical voice clicks on, the voice that sometimes says, "Don't write that," or "Man, that sentence is terrible - you should give up and go pet the cats."
My parents read to me a lot as a kid, and I started writing very early, probably spurred on by Aesop's fables. Then they gave me The Lord of the Rings way too early for me to fully understand what I was reading, which was actually kind of cool. It was almost better - comprehension's overrated when you're reading.
You could know the what of something forever and never discover the why.
It should be totally fine to question the objectivity of scientists and the power structures in scientific institutions. The physical laws of the universe are objective, but human beings in any context are not. That includes with regard to science. To some extent, the supposed objectivity of science has given a lot of extra cover to very subjective and eccentric approaches to exploring aspects of ourselves and the universe around us.
Once you realize there's less logic in human institutions than you once thought, you see the narrative potential in just about everything around you. Sometimes, in fact, it seems as if the human world runs on inefficiency and erratic behavior.
I believe the best creative writing lessons live in the specifics.
Imbuing fiction with a life that extends beyond the last word is in some ways the goal: the ending that goes beyond the ending in the reader's mind, so invested are they in the story.
A dream inspiring a story is different than placing a description of a dream in a story. When you describe a character's dream, it has to be sharper than reality in some way, and more meaningful. It has to somehow speak to plot, character, and all the rest. If you're writing something fantastical, it can be a really deadly choice because your story already has elements that can seem dreamlike.
I like delivering a message, but what I find interesting is providing those details in a different context. Then the readers can make up their minds what it means.
Trust your imagination. Don't be afraid to fail. Write. Revise. Revise. Revise.
Dreams, though, are just one kind of inspiration - no more or less special than something in a newspaper article or from the world around you sparking inspiration.
If I wasn't a writer, I don't know what I'd be. Probably a marine biologist or something.
Literary influences are harder for me to point to, because mostly it's a mulch of all of my past reading.
It is the nature of the writer to question the validity of his world and yet rely on his senses to describe it. From what other tension can great literature be born?
The music I listen to while writing is really scene-specific.
It's just a great motivator, a way to put myself in the mood.
Across all of the universe of creative lying, whether you believe in the art of it or the entertainment of it, or both, a certain foundation in the basics allows you to kind of jump out into the unknown.
If the reader enters a kind of immersive experience reading a book, then I have to enter a kind of immersive state to do my best work.
Angela Carter, Leonora Carrington, even nonsurrealists like Kafka and Nabokov - writers like these, who create paths between the firmly grounded and flights of fantasy, are my personal North Star.
I’ve got...ways of tricking my brain into getting what I need out of it
I don't believe that climate-change fiction will change the mind of a denier because most of the deniers I've met are basically in a cult situation. It's a faith issue. It's not a rational issue. There's no fact that's going to change their mind. They simply believe in the cult of climate-change denial and it somehow feeds into the rest of the mythos of their own life story.
The stories in Get In Trouble confirm once again that Kelly Link is a modern virtuoso of the form-playful and subversive required reading for anyone who loves short fiction.
What I envy about musicians is, they have this more direct relationship with the audience. They don't have to go through words. Sure, the lyrics count, but they go more immediately into your brain. There's so much more work you have to put in as a writer - not just with the actual book, but how it's packaged and everything.
Silence creates it's own violence.
You can either waste time worrying about a death that might not come or concentrate on what’s left to you.
I like to go through the zine sections of local bookstores when on the road and have found a lot of really great kind of underground stuff that way. It all feeds into everything else.
The best visual book I can think of is Lynda Barry's What It Is, but although I refer to it all the time it's not a creative writing book per se.
You can be deeply non-serious and still focused, disciplined, and on task.
My mom is an artist and my own fiction is deeply visual.
When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.
An inordinate love of ritual can be harmful to the soul, unless, of course, in times of great crisis, when ritual can protect the soul from fracture.
I had learned so much about the world that I had decided to withdraw from it.
All musical talent is absent in me, to the point of being unable to play board games that require you to hum a tune while others guess what it is, since all my humming sounds the same. Musical instruments have always seemed like alien artifacts to me, even as I really admire anyone who can play one.
Who had the bigger burden? The one who had to watch the other person endure or the one who endured?
But what if you discover that the price of purpose is to render invisible so many other things?
My singing ability is zilch.
One thing about beginning writers is that they don't really always know their own strengths and weaknesses - you might think you're bad at characterization, but that might really be because of some issue you're having with another element, which is making it hard for you to express character in a convincing way.
My mother is an artist, and I have a strong visual sense.
I almost always choose the cover art for my books. I've learned that the more I collaborate, like by having someone do a soundtrack to one of my books, the more I see my own work differently.
The world is a mysterious place and the very limitation of our senses in exploring it means we are sometimes aware of there being something beyond our ken.
When they give you things, ask yourself why.
When you're grateful to them for giving you the things you should have anyway, ask yourself why.
Position yourself to succeed by doing the other things in your life that rejuvenate you. You can create little islands of time away from your novel that will help preserve your balance. Exhaustion will affect both your writing’s quality and your productivity.
I think I got a complete picture of what the lives of scientists are like.
My father is of the opinion that if scientists are allowed to follow their nose, eventually it results in something. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen. What I came out of it with, in a non-cynical way, was that the scientific process is as messy as anything else. There's nothing wrong with that. That's just the way it is.
We should feel an urgency about our environment and what's been done to it by human action and inaction. I wouldn't say there's a resurgence - I think it's been with us all along, and especially since the 1960s and 1970s, but it is true that there's almost a subsection of the bookstore devoted to it now. Personally, I've been addressing these issues in my long and short fiction since the late 1980s - basically since the beginning of my career.
I do believe very much in the idea of unexpected or "convulsive" beauty - beauty in the service of liberty.