I spoke with Joe Fassler, a fiction writer who runs the By Heart series for The Atlantic online, about my favorite line or passage from literature:
"One line from the book, from an early section where Hurston is explaining her methods for collecting folklore in the South, stuck with me especially:
Mouths don’t empty themselves unless the ears are sympathetic and knowing.
This line changed how I thought about the work I wanted to do. It’s not about having a background that lines up with the characters you’re writing about, I realized. That’s not the responsibility of the fiction writer. Instead, you have the responsibility to be sympathetic—to have empathy." Read the entire piece here.