For the past year, The Days of Yore project has been bringing you weekly interviews with some of the most exciting writers, performers, directors, and visual artists in the country. We’re really happy with what we’ve done so far, and we hope you’ve enjoyed the work.
As we regroup, re-tool, and re-stock up on interviews for our project, we’re taking the month of July off.
We’ll be back in August with more, but in the meantime, please enjoy a brief compendium of some of our favorite nuggets of advice that the site has to offer. We call them nuggets because they’re succinct and taste good.
The happiest of summers to all of you. And sincere thanks for all the shares and pass-alongs and kind words! We really appreciate you checking out the site.
- Astri, Evan, and Lucas: The Days of Yore Team
“If you want to write, if you believe you’ve got something to say, if you believe you can write, then write and don’t be afraid to sit down.” -Stephen Adly Guirgis, playwright
“Find your peers.” -Will Cotton, painter
“Writing is not about having something to say. It’s about an intense relationship with the symbolic. Which means being completely immersed in literature, which means in other literature, but also in the world and all its mediations. So, maybe that would be the advice: Go and get immersed.” -Tom McCarthy, writer and conceptual artist
“School shows you exactly where the minefields are and is supposed to give you a map so you go around them. What about if stepping on a mine is part of it?” -Thomas Roma, photographer
“If there’s something you love to do more than acting, do it.” -Patrick Fischler, actor
“Don’t go to publishing parties,” – Daniel Mendelsohn, writer
“Treat the stage as a privilege. Having an audience watch you perform is an honor, even if you are in the basement of a dingy bar. And go up as many times as you can.” -Kristen Schaal, comedian
“Understand that you will always be just starting out.” – Jo Ann Beard, writer
“If it’s easy, be suspicious.” – Sylvia Waters, dancer
“Form a little theater company. Produce plays in your great-aunt’s living room. Take long walks. Drink plenty of tea. Conjure grace.”- Sarah Ruhl, playwright
“If you want to make something new or interesting, then go and really engage with what is going on now. Either mix yourself up with it and go with the flow, or react against it, but just go and work on it in that sphere of intensity for a while.” -James Franco, writer/actor/artist
“Read. I feel like it’s amazing how many people I know who want to be writers who don’t really read. I’m not convinced someone wants to be a writer if they don’t read.” -Jennifer Egan, writer
“If you’re doing it for the right reasons, then the work is its own reward.” -JK Simmons, actor
“Money is only a good reason to do writing that you don’t want to do anyway.” -Stephen Elliot, writer
“Do not wait for the right circumstances to make your best work. Make your best work with the circumstances you are in right now.” – Anne Bogart, theater director
“Don’t work in a vacuum.” -Donald Margulies, playwright
“Fail.” -John D’Agata, writer
“[A] grandmother of mine…used to say, in Yiddish, “A minute before the time is not the time.” That’s been a solace.” -Peter Friedman, actor
“You want to work 9-5, so that when the day is over it’s over and the weekends are yours.” – Gary Shteyngart, writer
“Make yourself indispensable and put yourself in a place where tons of theater artists pass through on a regular basis.” -Anne Kauffman, director
“You make your own community, and then you develop a context for the work and it automatically gets deeper. And they [the art world] will come find you.” -Tim Davis, photographer
“Charlie Parker said, ‘If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.’” – Julia Alvarez, writer
“You have to do bad stuff all the time until it gets good.” -Björn Yttling, musician
“Don’t read your reviews and don’t whistle in the dressing room” -Daniel Jenkins, actor
“Write yourself naked. In exile. And in blood.” – David Shields, writer
“It never stops being scary.” – Bianca Marroquín, Broadway performer
“I think the only defensible position is to sort of say to hell with making a living and put all your energy into making something new, that seems beautiful to you – that is, to try your best to push your work into a new/iconic place and let the chips fall where they may.” -George Saunders, writer
“Enjoy the time you have now when you are relatively unknown because no one is asking you for anything specific. There is nothing hanging over you. You are in a world right now when anything can happen. Enjoy that. Once you start publishing you really have to work to recreate that open feeling, because you immediately start getting placed. And now, you’re unplaced— unplaceable even. And that is a good thing. You don’t owe anyone anything.” – Josh Bell, poet
That’s right. You don’t owe anyone anything. But you do owe it to yourself. So, go forth. Do things! And also swim, because it’s the summer. And that’s a fun thing to do.
illustration courtesy of Gustaf von Arbin ( rep by Art-dept )