Ep. 141: Amy Koppelman – Write Something That Doesn’t Suck

This is for the writers.

Write something that doesn’t suck.

It’s a simple goal. A low stakes goal. You have nothing to lose.

Amy Koppelman wrote “I Smile Back,” with low stakes. All she had to do was make it not suck. That’s what Sarah Silverman told her.

Now, Silverman is starring in the movie as the main character. She’s Laney.

Amy’s books do more than just not suck. They’re emotional and honest. Publishers told her it resembled the truth too much. One publisher said, “This is the reason we got into publishing, but I can’t sell this.”

It was rejected at least 80 times. Now look at her success.

The book bleeds. I was scared reading it. I was scared for Laney.

You feel sorry for her, but sometimes you have to feel sorry for someone else to stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Good fiction can do that. It can give you an escape.

They tell you you can’t run away from yourself. But they lie all the time.

Amy wrote while she was depressed—she needed an escape. This escape led to more than just a healthier life, it led to a beautiful book.

In today’s interview, Amy reveals how you can write great fiction.

She tells me the best kind of writing understands you somehow without even knowing you.

It helps you understand yourself better. “All of us, whether we’re writers, carpenters or teachers, we just want to be heard and understood,” Amy says.

Whatever you’re doing now, you don’t know what it’s doing for your future. That’s why I recommend a daily practice.

Amy didn’t have a daily practice. She used to sit and wonder if she could ever make coffee again.

Depression made instant coffee look impossible. Everything loomed over her. But one day she made coffee. And over the course of many small victories, she survived.

Listen to Amy Koppelman to learn how to write to survive.

I mean it, listen to Amy, she is the master of fiction that bleeds.

Resources and Links:

  • Not to shill without permission but I just published a book and can say with confidence that it doesn’t suck because I lived through everything I wrote about. I am also running a creative writing bootcamp for men. Guys who successfully pass the course will attain Navy SEAL level prose writing capability.

    https://employmentgame.wordpress.com

    PS James your posts on home ownership were quite good and validated what I have learned by owning 4 houses in my life. I am selling my house and moving into a rental.

  • I’m so glad I found your blog. Your writing style is as good as your content, and gets me into the right frame of mind for writing my own stuff.

  • This interview was so inspiring!

  • ashley kujan

    Great interview, very raw. I appreciate honesty and find it so rare in this world! I am passing it on to a friend who lived with(has children with) a man who has bipolar disorder. It seems to be an epidemic(or maybe it is just that people are seeing it more often now that it has a label?). My mother has it, and I need to keep strong boundaries in order to remain close to the rest of the family…it is a tricky way to live, and those trying to(live with others and their disorders) must not take their actions/words personally. Easy to say, I know…