“More and more my foremost, abiding desire is to write books of a surpassing strangeness, and to do this I’ve had to hold closely to Joyce's famous adage of silence, cunning, and exile every day.
In this online exclusive we ask authors to share books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired them in their writing. We see this as a place for writers to turn to for ideas that will help feed their creative process.
“These are the things that make me want to be a better writer: the desert sky, the dust storms, the smell of rain, the river that is no longer a river but a border—my entire landscape; the violence that is killing the city of Juárez; opening William Faulkner’s Absalom!
“For inspiration, I love to go to old, junky antique shops—which there are a lot of here in the South, thankfully—and hunt for a box of old postcards and photos.
“I write to solo piano music (recently I’ve been listening to Edvard Grieg’s Lyric Pieces). Then I pick up something close to hand and see what strikes me.
“I recommend finding time to write every single day, even when you don’t feel inspired.
“I find inspiration in so many things—paintings by Gerhard Richter or Mary Heilmann, conceptual art, novels, a nice run at the blackjack table, a long mountain bike ride, talks with my wife, talks with other writers.
“When I’m writing every day, I read and meditate a lot. I look to architecture—in landscape and art—as a way to generate stillness, inspire form, and make me feel less alone.
“Sometimes all that saves me is being willing to make mistakes. There are projects that strike me as so beautiful, important, complicated, or just plain big, that they convince me of my own inadequacy.
“Ross McElwee’s self-reflexive documentary Sherman’s March changed my writing life.
“I ingest art daily—from the films of Lars von Trier, Takashi Miike, and Lucrecia Martel to fashion blogs to art openings in Los Angeles.