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An Orchard of Inspiration

Matt Bell plants conversations about writing with new novel.

A beautiful sentence like “The right to be only itself and make its way in life for its own reasons” came from the mind of Matt Bell and refers to a clone printed by a 3D printer 700 years into a dystopian future. The sentence tickled the brains of students attending the February 10 English Reading Series where Bell, author and creative writing professor from Arizona State University, read a few excerpts from his recent novel Appleseed, including the quote above.

Appleseed spans from the time of American folk character Johnny Appleseed (a faun in Bell’s novel) to an apocalyptic modern day to a version of earth 700 years in the future and tackles environmental themes through speculative fiction. As Bell read excerpts from each different time period, he shared details and answered questions about his writing process to help combat the mystery and challenge of writing novels.

Here are a few of his encouraging statements that came in response to questions:

About the editing process, Bell said that even when you need to cut something out of your writing, “none of it is waste.” It all helped you get your text to its current point, and some of it can even be reused at a later time.

Regarding exposition and explanations, Bell gave a trick. He explained that, “sometimes you just need to be forthcoming about there being no explanation.” People will ask why unless you tell them not to.

Bell acknowledged that writing is hard work. He said, “Some things take a long time to come together, but every once in a while, you get gift days where things come together easily.” And it is different from book to book. Explore. Try things. See what sticks.

To explore Bell’s other works, take a look at his website. There, you can also sign up for his creative writing newsletter if you want more tips from a writing professional. And for perspectives on writing from other authors, check out the ERS website for future readings.