William H. Gass's latest book is Eyes: Novellas & Stories, out this month from Knopf.


Are rewards for advice not asked for; canisters angled dangerously; secrets for sale; info whispered in an academic corner; honeys presented to people who award awards. Compel yourself to write several hours every day no matter how bad you feel. Eat well three times a day. Ceremoniously. Candles at dinner time. Habits like iron. They will serve as a reward for writing several hours every day no matter how awful you feel. Read the newspaper. It will make you properly angry about everything. Regularly.

TIPS Example

[“I’ve been bad about writing. Did I send you a postcard from Romania?

I almost didn’t make the trip. I’m like a worn valise. But Romania. Impossible to turn down don’t you think? George thought the same as I did, and the conference hotel serves good grub. Not that I dare to stuff myself. But gee-zee-pee-zee. Helen, he says, we can’t turn down such a stopover. A munch in Munich. We go there every chance we get. You might think we had grown weary of the Germs. Not for a euro. What a host. Everything free. Even the smoked salmon. Being famous in your field doesn’t pay the rent. Right?”’]

You can use any of these sentences whenever you get stuck. Such as:

“George thought the same as I did.” I believe in the value of exercises. Try to unify this fistful of meanings. You will be astonished by the result.


Stay away from the machinery of the modern world. It will ruin your imagination. It will shape a heart break and make demands of their own kinds.

This last sentence is very odd. “It will pretend to have a… “? “and make a demand…?” Okay. So we are in class.

Stay away from pop music. It is too crudely percussive. Sounds like gun fire.

We all ready have enough of that.


In short, don’t work in order to live, live in order to work.


Try to remember that artists in these catastrophic times, along with the serious scientists, are the only salvation for us, if there is to be any. Be happy because no one is seeing what you do, no one is listening to you, no one really cares what may be achieved, but sometimes accidents happen and beauty is born.