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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society

Writing

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Unbreakable Thread

Here’s part of what I love about spirit threads: words that once inflicted only pain can become a heart wound, which then becomes both guiding scar and guiding star, transforming a perceived enemy into a genuine, if accidental, teacher. “Faith can move mountains,” that seminarian in the hospital said. “If you pray for your brother hard enough, with a pure enough heart, you can save his life.” Those words taught me via pain that, as writer Anne Lamott has it, “The opposite of faith is not doubt: it is certainty.”

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Newfoundland

Whereas other memoirists seem to have unlimited drilling rights in the rich territory of childhood, I am largely reduced to mining the immediate past — Memoirs of the Month, as it were. My childhood is a metal milk crate, a parquet floor, a lighted button in an elevator. If only I could recall something I haven’t already remembered, one brand-new memory never before fondled, unraveled, torn, and patched.

The Sun Interview

The Moral Universe

Barbara Kingsolver On Writing, Politics, And Human Nature

This isn’t about “paper or plastic” or some vision of self-congratulatory parsimony. It’s about replacing material gratifications with spiritual ones. I don’t know how much carbon I’m offsetting with my choices. I just prefer to be a good animal rather than one that fouls its nest.

Quotations

Sunbeams

I have twenty-one pages, unusable, unprintable, destructive of the book as my mind still partly sees it, contradictory of character and inconsistent in tone. But I am undoubtedly started.

Janet Burroway

Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2014

So I can’t say I was surprised when I got pulled over yesterday for doing forty-seven miles an hour in a thirty-five-mile-an-hour zone. The policeman let me off with a warning, which was more mercy than I deserved. What do I think I’m doing, rushing through these precious, unrepeatable days?

The Sun Interview

High Plains Drifter

Poe Ballantine On Writing, Madness, And His Journey From Vagabond To Family Man

My point is that good writers are after the truth. We’re trying to draw the blood from real life and use it to make the words come alive, and that kind of alchemical process can be, you know, hazardous. But if you don’t get into trouble, if you don’t gamble, if you don’t present a sticky situation, if you’re not facing a monster, then you’re simply not going to be interesting, from a commercial or an artistic point of view. If you want to make a difference and stand out, you’re obliged to sound the depths.