A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
You may know that The Butter founder Roxane Gay had a banner year in 2014. The Year in Reading alum published a collection of essays and her debut novel. At Salon, she talks with Sara Scribner, sharing her thoughts on modern feminism, Lena Dunham and her plans for her next book.
Like writing personal essays? Want to get one published on The Hairpin? Sign up for the Skillshare class Writing Personal Essays that Get Read (taught by Friendship author and Year in Reading alum Emily Gould) and you might have your essay chosen for a feature on the site. The class is included with Skillshare membership ($10 per month). Better yet: the first 50 readers of The Millions to click here can sign up for free.
Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it's fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. "At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, 'Oh my God, it’s publication day' and I have a panic attack like 'Oh my God, what have I done?' I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book."
"Here is the last and biggest piece of advice I have: If you have a story that you want to tell, but you’re afraid that someone in your life is going to feel wounded, whether that feeling is justified or not, fair or not, tell it anyway." Emma Straub, who recently wrote about her Year in Reading, gives some advice on fictionalizing real people in an essay for Rookie.