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Bonni Goldberg

  • If we don't dream we go insane. Each of us chooses ways to understand their purpose.

  • Writing is a border town between experience, imagination, and understanding. Borders are wild and unstable places so it's a good idea to be as centered as possible when visiting them. The reasons writers often surround their writing time with rituals such as jumping rope, making coffee, or rearranging piles of paper is that these are ways to prepare for the trip.

  • If you avoid what is dangerous, you avoid life. If you throw yourself into a dangerous place without preparation, you devalue life. Writing is one of the crossroads where what is most disturbing can be explored and investigated without destroying yourself or others. This is one of the highest purposes of the arts.

  • Most of us write because we love to read. You have to love words and what they do to you to want to spend so much time wrestling them. Books make love to us; we want to make love back. Books speak the truths we suspect. They take us into a realm that only art can open, and send us back to our world refreshed. They are mentors; they initiate us.

  • In a way, all creative writing is about the unexpected. Speakers in poems and essays and characters in narratives are coping with a series of surprises as they move through life, just as we are. The unexpected happens or the expected happens but the reaction is a surprise. We surprise ourselves and we surprise one another. The only thing that isn't surprising is that we continue to be surprised.

  • Beware the euphemisms, those phrases such as 'he passed away,' 'they are having relations,' and 'she's experiencing the change of life.' These vapid, indirect expressions will blow smoke over significant events and objects. Euphemisms tone down the charge, dull the sting, soften emotional impact When the evening news reports that anti-strike forces reduced the threat of non-military territories bordering our strategic encampments, it means pilots bombed hospitals, schools, and museums. Euphemisms distance us from experience and ourselves. They are tools for manipulating language to confuse or avoid reality rather than express it.

  • Endings are the hardest parts to write. This is because they are false. Nothing truly ends; it transforms. Still, the novel must have a last page, the poem a final line. So it is helpful when writing ends to remember that you are really constructing a passageway, a birth canal, a place where the writer lets go and the work becomes part of the reader's consciousness, understanding, and imagination.

  • Writing is an aggressive act because you aren't leaving well enough alone. Some people will love you for it and others will feel threatened by your nerve. Whenever you write you reject being a passive receiver or a victim. When you finish a piece, you're refusing to be silenced or ignored. Writing is brave.

Bonni Goldberg, U.S. writer