I want to become a better writer. My novel, Good Kids, published by Scribner January 29th, is derivative, monotonous trash, and I’m carrying a lot of shame.
On the phone, you mentioned that you’ve been in therapy before. What kind of work did you do with your prior therapist?
I often found it soothing when she would take a copy of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and write “A Novel in Stories by Benjamin Nugent” on the jacket with a Sharpie. Sometimes we’d do that with The Corrections, and with Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red. On my bad days she would pretend to be a fan begging me to read some of my stuff out loud. She’d go, “Will you just read that passage from Howard’s End, where you say that stuff about ‘only connect?’” And I would say, “There’s only so much of myself I can give to any one of my readers.”