Thursday, February 11, 2016

18 Beautiful Terms Of Endearment From The Philippine Language

O, giliwwwwww~

Filipinos are very creative when it comes to getting someone else's attention.

Filipinos are very creative when it comes to getting someone else's attention.

Take 220 Productions / Via youtube.com

There are the traditional, old-fashioned terms of endearment, like, "mahal."

There are the traditional, old-fashioned terms of endearment, like, "mahal."

Isabelle Laureta / BuzzFeed

Or "irog."

Or "irog."

Isabelle Laureta / BuzzFeed


View Entire List ›

17 Incredibly Cheap Ways To Spend Valentine's Day

Because ain’t no one got time for a £100-a-head couples menu.

Get your book geek on.

Get your book geek on.

Find a free library and spend the day sharing your favourite authors and poets. The British Library is a great spot, as is the hidden Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre. Signet Library in Edinburgh, and the Liverpool Central Library are both beautiful too.

Tumblr / Via bookshelves.tumblr.com

Go Stargazing

Go Stargazing

There's nothing more romantic than looking at the stars with someone special... and even better, there's no price on the solar system. Read this handy guide to stargazing, and spend the evening marvelling at the cosmos.

weheartit.com

Create a love notes jar.

Create a love notes jar.

This is ~adorable~. You fill an old jar with handwritten compliments and notes about why you love the person you're gifting it to. Because feelings are worth so much more than jewellery or chocolates.

Tumblr / Via catsandcacti.tumblr.com

Build a blanket fort.

Build a blanket fort.

No explanation needed. Tutorial here.

Daniel Dalton / Buzzfeed


View Entire List ›

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

14 Things Every Book Nerd Can Relate To On Valentine's Day

Books > flowers.

First off, you sense the upcoming presence of Valentine's Day a *little* differently than others.

First off, you sense the upcoming presence of Valentine's Day a *little* differently than others.

Twitter: @KendallBrim

And there's no one you'd rather have ~breakfast in bed~ with than a good book.

And there's no one you'd rather have ~breakfast in bed~ with than a good book.

crimeofrhyme / Via instagram.com

You know nothing complements a good paperback better than a box of indulgent chocolates.

You know nothing complements a good paperback better than a box of indulgent chocolates.

tanychy_rhcp / Via instagram.com

And the only blind date you're interested in is one that involves a hardcover.

And the only blind date you're interested in is one that involves a hardcover.

Twitter: @NatalieWeatherm


View Entire List ›

OMG, The Harry Potter Play Script Is Going To Be Available To Buy

31 July cannot come quick enough.

It's been about eight months since it was announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play following the life of Harry's youngest son, would be hitting West End stages in mid-2016.

It's been about eight months since it was announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play following the life of Harry's youngest son, would be hitting West End stages in mid-2016.

Warner Bros. / Pottermore


View Entire List ›

It Looks Like College Students Might Actually Prefer Paper Books

Sorry, e-books.

Even though technology plays a huge role in young people's lives, NBC reports that 92% of college students would rather read more serious material in a good, old-fashioned book.

Even though technology plays a huge role in young people's lives, NBC reports that 92% of college students would rather read more serious material in a good, old-fashioned book.

Via giphy.com

According to a study conducted by Naomi Baron, an American University linguistics professor, college students prefer to read paper books over electronics like laptops, tablets, and e-readers.

According to a study conducted by Naomi Baron, an American University linguistics professor, college students prefer to read paper books over electronics like laptops, tablets, and e-readers.

The professor surveyed over 300 students enrolled in college or university from the United States, Germany, Japan, and Slovakia.

Chrisboswell / Getty Images

"There are all kinds of reasons students will give—"I have a sense of accomplishment when I finish a book and I want to see it on the shelf." They care about the smell of a book. In the Slovakian data, when I asked what do you like most about reading in hard copy, one out of ten talked about the smell of books. There really is a physical, tactile, kinesthetic component to reading."

The magic of paper books is truly undeniable.

The magic of paper books is truly undeniable.

Disney / Via giphy.com


View Entire List ›

Ian McKellen Got Choked Up Reading This Beautiful Coming Out Letter

The actor brought to life a passage from Armistead Maupin’s novel Tales of the City at a live reading event in London.

Sir Ian McKellen can lend his voice to any set of words and create pure poetry. This is a fact we all know to be true.

vine.co

The actor most recently brought his powerful voice up on stage for Letters Live, an event at London's Freemasons Hall which features speakers reading "remarkable letters written over the centuries from around the world."

The actor most recently brought his powerful voice up on stage for Letters Live, an event at London's Freemasons Hall which features speakers reading "remarkable letters written over the centuries from around the world."

"One of the joys of Letters Live is that one never knows who is going to take to the stage or what letter they are going to bring alive," boasts the event's website.

independent.co.uk

McKellen read aloud an emotional coming out letter which appears in author Armistead Maupin's novel Tales of the City.

McKellen read aloud an emotional coming out letter which appears in author Armistead Maupin's novel Tales of the City.

independent.co.uk

"I know what that feeling is, for I felt it for most of my life," Tolliver continues in his letter. "Revulsion, shame, disbelief — rejection through fear of something I knew, even as a child, was as basic to my nature as the color of my eyes."

He describes to his parents how the culture and people of San Francisco have helped him not only accept his sexuality, but embrace it.

"These aren't radicals or weirdos, Mama. They are shop clerks and bankers and little old ladies and people who nod and smile to you when you meet them on the bus. Their attitude is neither patronizing nor pitying. And their message is so simple: Yes, you are a person. Yes, I like you. Yes, it's all right for you to like me, too."


View Entire List ›

This Writer Penned A Poem Every Night On Her Commute Over The Manhattan Bridge

“I rode across that bridge twice most days and would drink in the light, the view, the distance, each time it was available to me.”

Mary Austin Speaker is a 38-year-old poet currently living in Minneapolis, MN. Before moving to Minnesota, she spent 12 years living in New York City, where she fell in love with the Manhattan Bridge.

Mary Austin Speaker is a 38-year-old poet currently living in Minneapolis, MN. Before moving to Minnesota, she spent 12 years living in New York City, where she fell in love with the Manhattan Bridge.

"It's the constant that I returned to, regardless of what job I had, who I was dating, where I lived, for as long as I lived in New York," she told BuzzFeed.

Photo by Chris Martin

When Speaker found out she'd be leaving New York, she decided to start writing poems during her daily commute on the subway ride across the bridge. The collection of poems is now a book, titled The Bridge.

When Speaker found out she'd be leaving New York, she decided to start writing poems during her daily commute on the subway ride across the bridge. The collection of poems is now a book, titled The Bridge.

"When I knew I was leaving New York, I picked up the habit of daily writing from my soon-to-be husband, Chris Martin, and endeavored to preserve my time in that bright, charged place by writing a poem that somehow mimicked my experience of being on the bridge, because I knew I would miss it most of all."

Shearsman Books

"I rode across that bridge twice most days and would drink in the light, the view, the distance, each time it was available to me," Speaker explained. "And when it was dark, the quiet, the distant lights of the city, usually obscured by the city itself."

"I rode across that bridge twice most days and would drink in the light, the view, the distance, each time it was available to me," Speaker explained. "And when it was dark, the quiet, the distant lights of the city, usually obscured by the city itself."

Courtesy of Shearsman Books

The author said her affinity for the bridge came from growing up in Texas, "where you can see for miles in any direction from so many places."

The author said her affinity for the bridge came from growing up in Texas, "where you can see for miles in any direction from so many places."

"[I] have always needed a place like that in order to form a connection to a new city."

Courtesy of Shearsman Books


View Entire List ›

What It Feels Like When Everyone Is Making Art But You

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

It makes no difference when you finally get to New York. It could be tomorrow, or next year, or 1977. If you come as a seeker, as a hopeful, as an aspirant — as a painter or a drummer or a filmmaker or a dancer — it will stun you with hard evidence that the people and the places that you've dreamed about since you were 12 exist. Your wildest dreams will find fulfillment here, which is another way of saying that those dreams will be erased. You'll be so dazzled and sated and gratified that you may never paint or sing or dance or write again.

That's how it seemed to me in the fall of 1994, at least. I was 22 years old when I found myself here, fresh off a piss-smelling Greyhound from Texas, with the wrong coat for the weather and the wrong expectations and a completely wrong set of directions to my friends' bathtub-in-the-kitchen walkup on Avenue A. I blush a little, even now, for the wide-eyed and credulous hick that I was then — but I envy him more. All his best mistakes still lie ahead of him.

What I learned in those first weeks was that New York hits all at once.

What I learned in those first weeks was that New York hits all at once. There's no grace period, no testing of the waters. I rolled off my friends' pull-out couch every morning resolved to jump-start my creative life, or at least to master the bewilderment that swamped me whenever I left their apartment, and I returned to that sagging couch each night — or sometimes only a few hours later — a failure on all counts. I'd come to the city to write, besotted with sepia-toned dreams of the bohemian life — a fuzzy mental montage of booze-fueled all-nighters, balls of crumpled paper and dime bags littering the floor, picturesque despair, cocaine, and an Olivetti portable, the kind Leonard Cohen used to write on when he lived on Clinton Street — only to discover a demimonde that made even the boldest of my made-for-cable fantasies look quaint.

Swans at the Mercury Lounge, Elliott Smith at Brownie's, Royal Trux at the Pyramid Club, hardcore matinees at ABC No Rio down on Rivington, after-after-hours dancing at Save the Robots on Avenue B, John Zorn at the old Knitting Factory on Houston, J. Mascis passed out in the closet at my first bona fide hipster party, an amateurish Blonde Redhead opening for basically every band that came through town: The East Village in the '90s was still a zone of enchantment, though there was never any shortage of ever-so-slightly older seekers to inform you that the wonders you were experiencing were no more than an attenuated shadow of the late '80s, to say nothing of the vanished glories of the no wave era, to say nothing of the cultural Big Bang singularity of Year Zero punk. I always imagined this stacking-Russian-doll scenario as something like the unavoidable image decay that happened when photocopying flyers: making a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox, the image of a band or a dog or a face degrading visibly with each new generation. Then again, the washed-out-looking flyers that hung everywhere the Village in those days — advertisements for indie shows, or missing pets, or roommates, or "Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar" — always struck me as works of art in their own right, at their most beautiful when they straddled the line of total illegibility. It makes no difference when you get here, they seemed to say. You've always just missed it.

It was on the sidewalk outside of an East Village copy shop, fittingly enough, when I first met the Singer. She was a slight, bashful girl with short messy hair and too much foundation and a quavering Southern lilt, on the arm of one of exactly three people I knew in the city. She was painfully sweet and delightfully awkward and almost impossible to talk to, a headlong tumble of apology and non sequiturs and manic asides to an imaginary audience, and she made me uncomfortable in a way I couldn't seem to shake. The gold records and couture endorsements and movie star boyfriends lay years in her future — although she was only a few weeks away from the show that would set it all in motion — and there was no sign yet of the kohl-eyed indie idol she'd become.

It was as if she knew that hearing her would alter me forever.

We went to a pay-by-the-hour rehearsal space on Avenue A — it's a vegan health food emporium now — and spent the afternoon playing lackluster covers on ruined equipment. I remember a godawful "American Girl" with the Singer on drums, bobbing her boyish head along with the wobbly beat she was playing, her eyes closed in what looked to be genuine bliss, and at some point my friend whispered that she was amazing, the next thing for sure, the rawest, saddest voice he'd ever heard. I thought he was joking. It hadn't hit me yet, not completely: the fact that in the city in which I now resided, the stranger sitting next to me on the subway might easily be the greatest at whatever they did in front of the mirror at home, be it telling jokes or eating light bulbs or cross-dressing or writing poetry or carrying a tune. I remember that the Singer didn't sing that day, not even oh yeah, all right, not even when I asked her to. It was as if she knew that hearing her would alter me forever.

If you're an innocent, a hayseed, a hick from the sticks when you get to New York — and you will be, no matter who you are or where you come from, as soon as you arrive — the city will present you with evidence that the possibilities are endless (to quote the Velvet Underground, who summed it up best) but that your personal contribution will be negligible, if you're fortunate enough to contribute at all. That's always been the bargain, the only transaction on offer, the last deal in town. You'll never make your mark on New York City, hayseed. The best you can hope for is that New York will condescend to leave its mark on you.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

I'd been in the city just under a year when I stumbled, more or less by dumb luck, onto the most gloriously senseless job I've ever had. A prestigious Soho gallery had a bookstore attached to it, right on the street, as a kind of afterthought — a terrarium-like space lined with limited-edition artist's books and catalogs and monographs that seemed written in code, with just enough room for a Le Courbusier armchair and a Danish modern desk — and by some perverse kink of fate I was hired as its lone employee. I knew next to nothing about contemporary art, and nothing whatsoever about the artists represented by the gallery — but this turned out not to matter, to me or anyone else, because weeks would sometimes pass without a customer.

Each day at noon (more or less) I'd shuffle through the airy white gallery, cotton-mouthed and hungover, make my way to a hobbit-sized door at the front of the private dealer's area, and duck through it into my Fabergé-egg-sized kingdom. I could almost touch the bookshelves from the desk I sat behind; the door to the gallery behind me was perfectly hidden in a wallpaper moonscape by the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, so that I appeared, to anyone looking in from the street, to be emerging from the darkness of a crater. The bookstore was a sentimental folly of the gallery's owlish, mercurial owner, whom I'll hereafter refer to as The Gallerist; rumor had it that she'd created it for her son, a onetime manager of the Beastie Boys and current hopeless junkie. No one ever checked on me or asked to see the ledger — they didn't seem to care how much I sold, or how I spent the hours from noon to 6 each day.

Finally, I said to myself, I'll be able to get some writing done.

Finally, I said to myself, I'll be able to get some writing done.

The Singer and I began to hang out from time to time, then a few times a week, then suddenly as often as we could. Something about her still made me uneasy, especially when I couldn't seem to follow what she was saying — but what drew me to her was more powerful by far. We'd meet as if by chance, on the street or in a record store or at some dingy café, and at some point toward morning we'd end up in her room on Third Street. It was at the very back of an enormous and gloomy apartment, just up the block from the three-story-high tower of stuffed animals that used to be the totem of Alphabet City but has long since been dismantled and forgotten. Her roommates were organizers of Spartacus Youth, three bug-eyed Trotskyists in their thirties who looked closer to 50 and always seemed to be sitting cross-legged in their living room in a huddle of their jittery comrades, waiting tight-lipped in their patched black hoodies for us to move out of earshot.

It made no sense to me that the Singer was living in that place, even after she'd admitted to me, gleefully, that she paid only a hundred bucks a month; but nothing about her made sense to me in those early days. Most of the time I didn't want to understand her. I only wanted to lie down in her bedroom with its blood-colored walls, a Technicolor bordello red I've never seen elsewhere, and let her put on 45s and murmur to me in ellipses and run her chipped, nail-bitten fingers through my hair. Lying on her Victorian sofa in the red half-light, I finally felt that I'd found the city I'd come in search of — the hidden city, the bohemian city, the city that was both all around and somehow closed to me — and that it might be even possible that I belonged there. I didn't want to kiss her; she was too otherworldly to kiss. What I mean is that I was afraid to kiss her. What I mean is that I wanted nothing else in all the world.

People will always tell you that you've arrived too late, that the present is elsewhere, that you've missed the conflagration by a day, or by a decade, or by a generation. It's your duty, as a seeker, to ignore them.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

My job at the gallery might as well have been designed expressly to furnish a struggling young author with the money, space, and leisure to pursue his chosen calling — and still I did my best, in those first precious months, to squander the chance I'd been given. Customers to the shop were few and far between, as I've said, but an outrageous percentage were downtown legends: John Waters, Yoko Ono, David Byrne, Kim Gordon, Robert Wilson, Susan Sontag, Robert Gober, Bill Murray, Thurston Moore. The space was so cramped that it felt as though we were chatting in the backseat of a cab, or in a therapist's waiting area, or in the studio I'd recently moved into. I was proud of myself for taking this mind-numbing pageant in stride — I cracked jokes to friends about how closely my day job matched every provincial art geek's fantasy — but eventually this cavalcade of genius took its toll on my morale. Who did I think I was, with my childish, provincial, self-indulgent scribblings?

Even more toxic to my starry-eyed notions of the artist in society were the transactions I witnessed in the private dealer's area at the back of the gallery. The Gallerist represented some of the biggest names of the late-'80s art world, a meager handful of whom still made interesting work — I can remember one Yayoi Kusama show, for example, down to slightest detail — but the crassness of the backroom hustle never failed to turn my stomach. Standing in front of a coral-pink painting by Rudolf Stingel, a middle-aged collector said to his whippet-faced wife, "Isn't this just what we were after, bunny? Doesn't this take you back to that scuba tour we took of the Seychelles?" "Bunny!" she'd croaked back, apparently unaware of the part she was playing in the most clichéd art-world satire imaginable. "Wouldn't it look sweet above our Phillipe Starck settee!"

I repaid this steady erosion of my ideals by doing the worst job in the history of commerce.

I repaid this steady erosion of my ideals, I cringe to admit, by doing the worst job in the history of commerce. At times it was as though I were slipping into the role of the Gallerist's son too perfectly, substance abuse and all, like Roman Polanski's character in The Tenant. I can think of one anecdote in particular that sums up my time there perfectly. I staggered into work one morning, late and hungover as usual, with a grumbling stomach and nothing to eat. Everyone was busy in the exhibition space, installing a group show with the dubious theme of "corners," so the staff room was empty. But I found nothing edible in there, either, aside from a pile of 1-pound bags of fortune cookies stacked next to the fridge. I ate almost an entire bag of those cookies — I was surprised at how tasty they were, especially with coffee — and congratulated myself on my abilities as an urban scavenger as I threw the bag away.

The lid had barely swung closed on the trash can when the gallery director, second only to the Gallerist herself, materialized at my elbow and began gingerly loading the cookie bags — holding his breath as he did so, as if they were archaeological artifacts from some vanished culture — into a specially modified dolly. When he'd finished stacking, he counted the bags, then laid a hand over his eyes, then took in a breath and counted them again.

"Hey, John. Can I ask you a favor?"

"Sure thing, Jean-Luc."

"How many bags do you see?"

I made a deliberate show of counting them, then told him I saw 12.

"That's how many I get." He said nothing for a very long time. "There are supposed to be 13. Have you seen one around?"

I shook my head blankly. "Is this for the party?"

"It's for the show. It is the show. It's a Felix Gonzalez-Torres installation." He cleared his throat. "The cookies get poured into the corner. All of them. Brilliant concept."

"Brilliant," I agreed hoarsely.

I learned later that the piece, missing cookies notwithstanding, sold for just under $200,000.

My daily life was an embarrassment of riches in those days — in the sense that I'm embarrassed, even now, at how egregiously I took my luck for granted. I tended bar (read: opened bottles of wine) at the monthly gallery openings, and Kurt Vonnegut was there every time. He would materialize at the drinks table, quietly and apparently all on his own, and wait politely while I opened another bottle of Chablis. He barely seemed to notice the art on the walls. He always waited for a fresh bottle, and he always seemed to be content to wait. Sometimes we exchanged pleasantries; sometimes he said nothing. I never saw him talking to anyone else. This went on for two years. To this day I'll still catch myself imagining the things I might have said to him.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

For months now the Singer had been talking, in a self-deprecating mumble, about some guys out in Hoboken whom she'd been playing with, and a show they had coming up, maybe, at an underground club in the Meatpacking District called the Cooler. Things were going sort of badly, she said, but they'd probably play the show anyway. Might as well. I'd been thinking of asking her to be in a band I was starting myself — she could play drums, I figured, and maybe sing harmony — and I might have been jealous if she hadn't made her ambivalence so clear. She told me not to bother coming out if I didn't feel like it, but she put me on the guest list, so I went.

The club was packed when I got there, even though I got there early, which confused me a little; what confused me even more was that half of Pavement were slouched in a booth next to the bar. I can't for the life of me remember any of the other bands that played that night — Guv'ner? the Frogs? the Linnfield Pioneers? — but I convinced myself that most of the crowd was there for anyone but her. That's how well she'd concealed her talent from me, for reasons I'm still trying to figure out; that's how callow and young and self-absorbed I was. What I do know is that when she finally took the stage, and Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth took a seat at the kit behind her, I felt a dizziness that quickly grew to full-fledged vertigo as she strapped on her Silvertone guitar — the same one I'd noodled around on amateurishly just a few days before — and stepped up to the microphone to sing. I'm not sure that sense of vertigo has ever passed.

I decided I loved the Singer that night.

I decided I loved the Singer that night — how predictable, how craven that seems to me now! — and she must have decided, at virtually the same moment, that I'd blown my last chance. I'd seen her now in all her glory, after all; I'd seen her and heard her and understood that she was bound for fame, and my motives could no longer be pure. I waited for her after the show but she never came out, and I was too stunned and intimidated, suddenly, to look for her backstage. I called her early the next morning — I couldn't wait longer — and lost no time in telling her exactly how I felt.

"I didn't see you last night," she said sleepily when I'd finished. "Were you there?"

"I was there."

She didn't say anything for a while. I heard the sound of something being poured into a glass. "You see a lot of sides of a person, spending as much time together as we did these last few months." She spoke in a whisper, I remember, as though she were speaking only to herself. "I gave you all kinds of chances, John. I saw all sorts of sides. But all I really remember is the back of your head."

"What the hell does that mean?" I asked her. But by then she'd already hung up.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Which Newly Revealed Wizard School Should You Study Abroad At?

Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. Next semester.

How To Write An Autobiographical Novel

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

You are like someone left in the woods with only an axe and a clear memory of houses deciding to build a house.

You will furnish everything with that axe.

Also the woods is your life.

You are the axe.

The vision of it sits like a gift from any god you might be willing to believe in.

A novel, or is it, you aren’t sure yet. But it is as suddenly real as an unexpected visitor. Someone you both know and do not know.

You watch each other, carefully, perhaps for years.

What do you want with me, you want to ask, but you know, and it knows too.

I will tell only the truth, you decide. It’s right there, perfect, after all.

You must write it. It would be so easy.

And yet when you sit down to try, the perfection is gone.

The beautiful symmetry, the easy way of it, all of it is replaced by awkwardness, something worse than if your mind made only noise.

When you stop, dejected, you see it again, perfect again. As if mocking you.

Soon you learn you only see it when you do not try.

This may be its way of stopping you, but regardless, you do stop trying.

And then start. And then stop.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with why you would try to undo yourself.

Why you would be your own worst enemy or best friend, or that person who is sometimes both.

Now you know.

What is the way into the place where it is, you wonder.

Perhaps it is like the Venetian towns built to confuse pirates. You think you are headed toward the square with a fountain, and instead find yourself in an alley, or out along the cliff wall. Another life.

You remain sure the way in is underneath the what left behind. There is a noise, drawn over the surface of the entrance like camouflage.

You find this only when you decide you must try again.

You don’t know this yet, but gods, even when you don’t believe in them, do not give something easily. Not even when the god is you.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

You didn’t make this up, someone says to you, when finally you write it and give it to them to read.

You feel as if you have dropped your disguise.

Is this me, they ask, coldly.

Their disguise, also dropped.

Perhaps it is them, and you forgot somehow, some way you now feel must mean you are stupid. And yet you hoped they also would see how perfect it was.

The living, who reside uncomfortably in prose.

Which includes you.

On this day you are like the child who believes they are invisible because they stood in a shadow.

In the meantime, perhaps this other person, the reader, says, There is no plot.

You see this also.

What you thought was a novel was a string of anecdotes, perhaps a few chapters, and you cannot see what comes before or after.

Plotting a novel out of what has happened to you is like decorating your house by leaving the furniture wherever the movers left it.

The events of your life, you eventually understand, do not describe what you have learned from them. Like pointing at an empty field and shouting “novel.”

The writer who cried “novel!” — yes. Yes, that was you.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

You must invent something that fits the shape of what you know.

To do this you must use the situations but not the events of your life.

You must invent a character like you but not you.

You, in the forest of yourself with the axe, building the house, sealing yourself in its walls.

You are the ghost of the house. You will never live in this house you make of your life.

The space you occupy is like the space between the wall and the paint.

This is the difference between you and the one you have invented to be you.

A golem of the self, this house and its occupants, capacious, something anyone could visit and understand. That is what you hope for now.

This golem more or less careless than you, more or less selfish, more or less remorseful.

More or less you, but not you.

Perhaps remorseful exactly the same way as you, but something else is what changes as you write them, until you understand you are apart.

If you are a professor, then the character is a professor. If you are tall, he is tall. If a woman, a woman, and so on. But then other things change that will make the difference.

Give the character your name only if it will make this difference plain. Anything else is museum theater.

Instead choose a name with the same music.

Invent the other characters also, the same way.

Or change all the names.

Change everything.

Use neither the names of the willing or the unwilling. Especially those who may say all is fine, but will change from willing to unwilling once it is published and understand what they have given you.

This is because you must betray this character in the way all writers betray all of their characters, done to reveal the ways they are human.

To do less than this is only PR.

If you begin to self-deprecate, remember that is not that authorly betrayal of a character. Self-deprecation is also PR.

You have invented this self because the ways you are human are not always visible to yourself.

For this reason, be prepared, always, to stop and set the novel aside, until you are prepared to do what you must do.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

Why is it not a memoir, people will ask.

I tell more truth in fiction, you might say.

The memoir a kind of mask too, but one that insists you are only one person.

All fiction is autobiographical, they might say.

You know you would go into a casino and bet all your money that it is not. This is in fact what you have done in the writing.

We should speak of the price.

The price is you do not get it back, after you write it, whatever was at its heart.

This is the meaning of a sacrifice.

Give this over then only if you can make something greater than what you had.

Anyone who unhappily saw themselves in your characters will most likely see themselves, even if they were not described.

If you are tempted, the legal standard is that a stranger must be able to recognize the character in life from the description before the person can sue.

You cannot sue yourself.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

There is another standard, something else, and its demands and punishments will stand unrevealed until they are before you, waiting as the book once did, in the place where you live.

Anyone not in your life will believe it is your life and also the people in your life, despite what they might remember.

This price is paid until no one is left alive.

Here are the warnings then, dressed as thieves.

Say you do not see the point of the difference, you are prepared to go on without making it.

You can’t stop me, you think. I must do this, you are thinking.

You will stop you, in fact, blocked until you figure yourself out.

Lost in the trap of "That happened." You struggle because "that is how that really happened" and yet cannot make it convincing in fiction, cannot figure out what happens next.

Your novel or story only an anecdote, your plot a series of aversions, dodges in disguises, trauma dressed as friends saying “yes you can no you can’t yes you can.”

Ready to steal as much of your life as you let them, more than what they already have taken.

One last price, hidden behind the rest.

Write fiction about your life and pay with your life, at least three times.

Here is the axe.

Will Varner / BuzzFeed

***

Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and Lit Hub, and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, Guernica, NPR and Out, among others. He curates the Dear Reader series at Ace Hotel New York and lives in New York City.

To learn more about The Queen of the Night, click here.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt