The act of writing bears something in common with the act of love. The writer, at his most productive moments, just flows. He gives of that which is uniquely himself. He makes himself naked, recording his nakedness in the written word. Herein lies some of the terror which frequently freezes a writer, preventing him from producing. Herein, too, lies some of the courage that must be entailed in letting others learn how one has experienced or is experiencing the world.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done. The writer's only responsibility is to his art.
In the act of writing, the writer externalizes his or her thoughts. The writer enters into a reflective and reflexive relationship with the written page, a relationship in which thoughts are bodied forth. It becomes difficult to say where thinking ends and writing begins, where the mind ends and the writing space begins. With any technique of writing - on stone or clay, papyrus or paper, and particularly on the computer screen - the writer comes to regard the mind itself as a writing space. The writing space becomes a metaphor, in fact literate culture's root metaphor, for the human mind.
What I take from writers I like is their economy -- the ability to use language to very effective ends. The ability to have somebody read something and see it, or for somebody to paint an entire landscape of visual imagery with just sheets of words -- that's magical. That's what I've been trying to strive for -- to draw a clear picture, to open up a new dimension
[Asked to consider the role of the writer, Mr. Lopez has said],
"I like to use the word isumatug. It’s of eastern Arctic Eskimo dialect and refers to the storyteller, meaning ‘the person who creates the atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself.’ I think that’s the writer’s job. It’s not to be brilliant, or to be the person who always knows, but… to be the one who recognizes the patterns that remind us of our obligations and our dreams.”
I think a real writer simply has to think in other terms. Not, "Will I get in this magazine? Will I get the NEA next year?" but whether or not this work is something he would do if a gun was held to his head and somebody was going to pull the trigger as soon as the last word of the last paragraph of the last page was finished. Now if you can write out of the sense that you're going to die as soon as the work is done, then you will write with urgency, honesty, courage, and without flinching at all, as if this were the last testament in language, the last utterance you could ever make to anybody. If a work is written like that, then I want to read it. If somebody's writing out of that sense, then I'll say, "This is serious. This person is not fooling around. This work is not a means to some other end, the work is not just intended for some silly superficial goal, this work is the writer saying something, because he or she feels that if it isn't said, it will never be said." Those are the writers I want to read. And there are not many twentieth-century writers like that [nor twenty-first century writers either!--SMdM].
"If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never be able to write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn."