Thoughts that have helped me recently: we read to make sense of our experience, or to help ourselves endure it. Which explains why I loved The Fault in Our Stars. I was impatient to the point of bad-temper with John Green’s plot, which seemed so contrived: girl dying of cancer meets boy dying of cancer and falls in love with life. But I was mesmerized by his language, his respect for his characters, and his deep wisdom about being human. At the moment I need wisdom, most of all.

I was reading The Creative Compass. The writer said we often turn to books about writing because we are looking for permission to write, a strategy for approaching it, courage. We fail to realize that the most important place we get permission, maybe the only place, is in the act of writing itself. By writing, first and foremost, we learn how to write, how we write. Today, in this moment in history, the message seems urgently important: write. That’s your only way forward. Don’t read a book about writing. Don’t wait for courage or permission. Write.