11/24/2015

13 Ways to Live And Write Like Kurt Vonnegut


Kurt Vonnegut would have been 93 this month. If we were lucky enough to live in a world where people like Kurt Vonnegut lived to be 93.

The dude is one of those writers who's well-liked and popular, but still underrated somehow. How it is that The Sirens Of Titan isn't an all-time classic I do now know or understand, and frankly it's part of what makes me feel like our society is nothing but wreckage.

What really made Vonnegut great was his generosity. He wrote about fictional worlds in a way that let the reader in instead of keeping her at a distance. Vonnegut's voice on the page was that of a storyteller, someone who always made a point about the value of a reader's time.

And he gave some pretty damn good life advice too.

Take a moment, improve your writing, better your terrible life, and remember Kurt Vonnegut.

Most of what's below, unless linked, is contained in one of the two books featured at the end of this column, if you're looking for more advice.

Write And Quit Your Goddamn Nightmare Job

How do you make it as a writer? After Vonnegut sold his first story, he wrote a letter to his father. An excerpt:

"I've deposited my first check in a savings account and, as and if I sell more, will continue to do so until I have the equivalent of one year's pay at GE...I will then quit this goddamn nightmare job, and never take another one so long as I live, so help me God."

I'll give you this much, either story publishers paid A LOT more back then or GE paid A LOT less. But perhaps this is a useful tactic for any writer wondering whether to make the switch. Figure what you can live on, and once you've got that for a year, boom....more