As Good As We Can: Top 10 Bits of Wisdom from Bonnie Jo Campbell

Posted on 07 November 2013

Bonnie Jo Campbell / credit: Chris MagsonBonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River, American Salvage, Q Road, Women and Other Animals (and owner of this fantastically redone kitchen — follow the link to hear her advice on why writers should live in cheap, messy houses), visited Bowling Green a few weeks ago to give a reading and share some of her writerly advice. I boiled down some of Q&A answers in a handy top 10 list. Enjoy:

10. I think it’s a good sign as a writer if your house looks miserable.

9. I knew that to get by in this industry, I’d have to be scrappy.

8. If you’re going to write, you have to keep writing when you’re up or down. I wrote the second half of American Salvage assuming I had no writing career.

7. I didn’t know I was ballsy enough to write a book with “American” in the title. That’s something a guy would do.

6. Many people in this world would like to think that the people I write about do not exist, or don’t want to know they exist.

5. In a short story, you can suspend disbelief and be more extreme in a way you can’t in novels.

4. In revision, you have to do something until it feels right, until it feels done and feels finished.

3. I write a really bad story and then I make it good.

2. In this life, you’re only going to have a couple of good books. Make them count.

1. Take your time. Keep working on those stories … all we can do is work hard on them and make them as good as we can.

Are you making it as good as you can?

2 responses to As Good As We Can: Top 10 Bits of Wisdom from Bonnie Jo Campbell

  • 10. Thank god.
    1. Doing my best.

    Love the interview/kitchen pics. I’m going to go look up her books. Thanks!

  • Catherine says:

    This is a really timely post for me. I don’t have a donkey in the kitchen but my house is a MESS. I am a writing zombie I think, especially when it gets colder. I totally agree that you can suspend belief more readily in a short story than a novel – that’s half the fun no?
    Great advice here. Or, I’m relieved to find I’m not alone..

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