The James Altucher Show

Ep. 140 - Amy Koppelman: Write Something That Doesn't Suck


This is for the writers.  Write something that doesn't suck.  It's a simple goal.  With low stakes, Amy Koppelman wrote "I Smile Back," which was rejected at least 80 times. It was rejected because it resembled the truth too much. One publisher said, "This is the reason we got into publishing, but I can't sell this." Now, Sara Silverman is starring in the movie. She's the main character, Laney.  I was scared for the Laney. The book bleeds.  Sometimes you have to feel sorry for someone else to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Good fiction can do that. It's how you can escape.  They say you can't run away from yourself. But they lie all the time. Amy wrote letters. She was depressed. She needed an escape. When she recognized sadness in someone else, she wrote him letters. Years later, with a pair of scissors, she cut and pasted a story together. That's how she got her book. She wrote with scissors. In today's interview, Amy reveals how you write great fiction. I wanted to know about the sadness inside her. Does it come from a deeper, darker truth? Amy says 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 doesn't have a daily practice. She used to sit and wonder when she'd 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. This is the master of fiction that bleeds.