Quotable Tuesday-Jane Kurtz

Today’s quote comes to us from Jane Kurtz. I first met Jane during my second semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Though she officially became my advisor, she also became a friend who will often email me just to say, “Hello, Lindsey. How’s the writing going?” I adore her welcoming spirit and often wonder how she gets so much writing done during her world travels to writing conferences and Ethiopia where she is dedicated to bringing books to children there. When I asked her what quote inspires her to keep writing, she said, “My favorite recent quote is from an interview with Philip Pullman in 2007, responding to the thought that he writes FOR children.”

“I would rather consider myself in the rather romantic position of the old storyteller in the marketplace: you sit down on your little bit of carpet with your hat upturned in front of you, and you start to tell a story.  Your interest really is not in excluding people and saying to some of them, ‘No, you can’t come, because it just for so-and-so.’  My interest as a storyteller is to have as big an audience as posible.  That will include children, I hope, and it will include adults, I hope.  If dogs and horses want to stop and listen, they’re welcome as well.”

Says Jane, “For the past 3-5 years, I’ve been working not only on my own writing but also on volunteer efforts to get books to Ethiopian kids–thousands of whom learn how to read without ever having a book to read.  So it’s made me think a lot about stories and what they are even FOR and why I feel passionately that they are so important.  Pullman said in a lecture, “Stories are written to beguile, to entertain, to amuse, to move, to enchant, to horrify, to delight, to anger, to make us wonder.”  In my own family, they were a source of big ideas, of the push that makes humans take risks, of comfort, of knowing what it feels like to be in another human being’s skin and brain.  With whatever years I have left as an author, I want to keep learning the skills of the storyteller who weaves a tale that is enchanting and fresh and asks big questions.”

Ahhh, that’s how she gets the writing done: dedication, passion, commitment. Thank you, Jane, for taking a moment to be here in this quiet corner of the web.