- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: acton, MA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Unabashedly paying tribute to the writers who have helped shape his life, the author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten reveals his sources. In the captivating Words I Wish I Wrote: A Collection of Writing that Inspired My Ideas, Robert Fulghum shows us, by presenting others' passages plus his own commentary, that the very American-seeming philosophy he's tapped in six bestselling titles has origins as diverse as Rilke, Hokusai and Freud, but also runs the American gamut from Tom Paine to Tom Robbins.
Robert Fulghum: Extremely well. I'm just finishing up a book tour, so that is always good news.
Robert Fulghum: Very few. I did recently meet Tom Robbins and Jimmy Carter, and I met Kurt Vonnegut.... That's all that comes immediately to mind, though I'm sure I met others.
Robert Fulghum: [laughs] That's why the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae tastes so good! We're pulling out the very best of what people say and think.
Robert Fulghum: I think so. This new book is a memoir in its final form, of an intellectual, spiritual journey, one that is unfinished. I think we could say it is the best of what I know now, but I suspect ten years from now it will have changed. I might add that I saw a bumper sticker in Santa Fe two weeks ago that said, "Don't believe everything you think." I wish I had put that in the book.
Robert Fulghum: [laughs] He is like a certain weather pattern that blew through our culture. And I quote him in my book: the words to "Ripple." I spent some memorable evenings listening to the Grateful Dead live in concert. I do like a lot of Jerry Garcia's music, and a lot of his life, for that matter.
Robert Fulghum: First of all, I don't write books. I am living a life, and writing about that life is a by-product of that life. So I think of what I've done as writing one large body of work that is evidence of what's going on in my life in that particular time. And I share it as I would a letter to a friend. I am very definitely not in the guru business.
Robert Fulghum: Let's see.... I think religion is not an either/or proposition. Thomas Merton, for example, a great Roman Catholic, looked to Buddhism and other religions for perspective on his own religion. In every religion there is a way of expressing wisdom that is a complement to one's own. Read about any religions and take what is useful and complementary for your own. I think there are many roads to the top of the mountain, but they all lead, finally, to the same place.
Robert Fulghum: [laughs] I'm very happy about it. Keep in mind that we are told important things lifelong in a language we can handle at the time. These are not simple things; they are fundamental things. In kindergarten we are told, "Don't hit people -- it is not OK." In college, we study the consequences of violence in the history of humankind. It's the same concern. And so on.
Robert Fulghum: Because I read him very early on, at a time when I needed to think for myself. And every time I have read him since, I find he continues to speak to that need, to think for myself. And the eyes that I read Thoreau with at 20 and the eyes I read him with at 60 are not the same eyes. I see things now that I didn't understand then.
Robert Fulghum: It is the book I am working on next, whatever that book happens to be, because it comes out of the immediate life I am living and revolves around my creativity at the moment. In some ways, books are like campfires. They are evidence that one's life is burning well. But by the time you come across a campfire, that writer is burning one someplace else. The terrible temptation is to go back and read something you wrote ten years ago and rewrite it completely, but I don't, because it is an honest statement of where that man was at that stage in his life.
Robert Fulghum: Let's see -- I still have to go to Spokane, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and then I am done.
Robert Fulghum: Well , I would say, "In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer." Albert Camus. And the second would be the quote from Walt Whitman:"Do I contradict myself? Very well -- I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes." The third one is "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" From the Bible. Those would be the three.
Robert Fulghum: Just the beauty of the language. And the sheer power of language when read aloud.
Robert Fulghum: [laughs] Yes, I was an IBM salesman in Dallas, Texas, and my officemate was H. Ross Perot. I wrote the introduction to his biography. But I didn't vote for him.
Robert Fulghum: I think education is in an appropriate state of ferment. If we ever say, "We're doing exactly what we should do, and the job is done," education is dead. The future of education depends on constructive troublemakers who keep demanding that we do better. I hope you are one of those!
Robert Fulghum: I do my writing in my head, which is to say that most of the real creative work comes when I am walking around and thinking. I use the computer to report what I've been doing. But the writing goes on 24 hours a day, and within three pounds of raw meat between my ears. That is my laboratory. I show many people my work. I am writing to communicate to someone else, and I want to make sure that what I write is getting there. So as many as 200 people read a manuscript, and I rely more on the intelligence of ordinary readers than I do on the intelligence of editors. Most of what I write begins as something I tell aloud.
Robert Fulghum: Yes. there is a whole section in the new book called "Contradictions," and there is a whole section on laughter that a sixth grader would get, and a whole section on play as well. I write my books with a young audience in mind, and I am really pleased that you are reading them to sixth graders.
Robert Fulghum: I don't pray in a strict sense. But I do take time to sit still and meditate.
Robert Fulghum: THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. I am now reading that to my grandchild. I also grew up with Bible stories, but my all-time favorite children's story is CHARLOTTE'S WEB, which is a story for a child of any age.
Robert Fulghum: Yes. But more specifically, I should say that in rereading many great novels, I realize now how they were constructed and why they are great. I got more ideas for techniques than anything, because I am now working on novels.
Robert Fulghum: [laughs] The new job I was doing at the time. Though I must say that being a rodeo cowboy at 19 was the most exciting. I met the best-looking girls then. :)
Robert Fulghum: I think it is scary and exciting. The possibilities of really good things are there, because the Soviet Union has huge natural resources and lots of land. I see the possibility of great difficulties, because there is no tradition of democracy. And the great question for the former Soviet Union is whether democracy can preclude the return of a single great leader for their government.
Robert Fulghum: The Waco I grew up in was a wonderful place. The event with the Koresh commune happened well outside of Waco and had nothing to do with the character of Waco itself. It is too bad that that awful event has been linked to a very nice town. I think the name of the closest city was Elk, or Elk City, or something like that, but no one wanted to talk about the problems in Elk! [laughs] "The Great Elk Catastrophe" had problems. It would be like judging Lockerbie, Scotland, as a bad place because of the 747 that crashed there.
Robert Fulghum: No. I have far more attention on my life than I ever expected, or deserve.
Robert Fulghum: I have long been involved in social action. I have been a minister for 40 years. I have always been involved in organizations that bring people together, as Habitat does, from a wide range of places. Or any organization that cares about human rights on a wide scale. I often say to people that I have a government job: I am a citizen. I feel obliged to do my job well.
Robert Fulghum: Yes. And when I visited the wall of the school ten years later, I found that the writing is all still there, even on the ceilings. I found I learned a lot about what was on students minds by letting them write. And I must say, they wrote many beautiful and provocative and funny things, even though I never told them what they should or should not write. I miss the classroom, but I think of what I am doing still as teaching, and I don't miss the regular hours! I like the hours better now. I think it is very important to understand that each one of us is a student and a teacher as long as we live. We are always learning from others, and they are always learning from us.
Robert Fulghum: I always say, start by writing what is most important to you, and then think about how to make that important to someone else. So start with what you most want to say, not with what you think people most want to hear.
Robert Fulghum: Camus. Albert Camus. I should add that I would like to meet all the people in the book.
Robert Fulghum: I like the idea of doing this -- the questions are always fresher this way. Plus I am a Barnes & Noble stockholder. :) Goodnight.