“The truth is, everyone likes to look down on someone. If your favorites are all avant-garde writers who throw in Sanskrit and German, you can look down on everyone. If your favorites are all Oprah Book Club books, you can at least look down on mystery readers. Mystery readers have sci-fi readers. Sci-fi can look down on fantasy. And yes, fantasy readers have their own snobbishness. I’ll bet this, though: in a hundred years, people will be writing a lot more dissertations on Harry Potter than on John Updike. Look, Charles Dickens wrote popular fiction. Shakespeare wrote popular fiction - until he wrote his sonnets, desperate to show the literati of his day that he was real artist. Edgar Allan Poe tied himself in knots because no one realized he was a genius. The core of the problem is how we want to define “literature”. The Latin root simply means “letters”. Those letters are either delivered - they connect with an audience - or they don’t. For some, that audience is a few thousand college professors and some critics. For others, its twenty million women desperate for romance in their lives. Those connections happen because the books successfully communicate something real about the human experience. Sure, there are trashy books that do really well, but that’s because there are trashy facets of humanity. What people value in their books - and thus what they count as literature - really tells you more about them than it does about the book.”
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours
“To realize that all your life—you know, all your love, all your hate, all your memory, all your pain—it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream. A dream that you had inside a locked room. A dream about being a person…And like a lot of dreams, there’s a monster at the end of it.”
“Define yourself in your own terms. In terms of gender, race, anything. We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love. That’s OK. You’re not alone in who you are. There are people out there who will love and support you. It’s about doing the work and believing and finding them—if not in your local community, there’s somebody online that you can go to and talk to for support.”