What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Should You Run Over Your Grandmother for the Sake of a Novel?

April 30, 2010, 12:00 AM
Grandmacar2
Faulkner would sacrifice his grandmother for his fiction—Anne Lamott, however, would not. For writers who, like most of us, have the goods on their family and friends, "honest can be devastating"—which is why Lamott avoids scandalous memoirs or romans à clef. Still, the "Imperfect Birds" novelist is the first to admit that she's led an imperfect life, and that life finds indirect ways of sneaking into her books. Battles with alcohol, adolescence, and faith have all been grist for her creative mill, as they are for her Big Think interview.

Funny and unsentimental, Lamott recalls being a wild child until her early thirties, seeking inspiration in "drugs, alcohol, and poetry" but finding the addict's life wasn't conducive to the "ponderous" work of writing. (Working as a writer is a little like "being a shoemaker," she says.) Eventually she sobered up with the help of friends and faith, as well as large amounts of meditation, black coffee, and Safeway cakes.

Her resulting career has earned her a reputation as "The People's Author," a label she says she's unfamiliar with but welcomes. At the same time, she confesses that she gets as sucked into the politics and petty snobbery of writing as the next author, wondering late at night whether Susan Sontag would be her friend if she were still alive. At the end of the interview, the author of the classic creative writing guide "Bird by Bird" shares a few tips and exercises for young writers, stressing the importance of editing out "lies" in the final draft.
 

Should You Run Over Your Gr...

Newsletter: Share: