Maria Semple

(Maria Keogh Semple)

Maria Semple
Maria Semple
  • Born: May 21, 1964
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Television Producer, Television Writer Novelist









Quote Topics Cited
After decades spent in rewrite rooms surrounded by other shouting writers, I discovered that I work best alone. I like being in charge of my time, working out the problems according to my own rhythms and being able to nap. Time ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
After decades spent in rewrite rooms surrounded by other shouting writers, I discovered that I work best alone. I like being in charge of my time, working out the problems according to my own rhythms and being able to nap. That's a big one, the napping on demand! Time ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
An artist must create. If she doesn't, she will become a menace to society. Society
And dialogue, I'm good at it, and it's because it's the only thing you have to work with in TV writing. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Both 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' and my first novel, 'This One is Mine,' are pretty complex on a story level, and fun reads as a result.
Creating art is painful. It takes time, practice, and the courage to stand alone. Time ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Even when I was writing 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette,' I started to appreciate Seattle's many charms.
I always write authors after I read their books. I've been doing it for years. I write a formal letter and send it to them in care of their agent. My mother always taught us to write thank you notes, and if an author puts themselves out there, they like to hear that their book connected with someone.
I attended TED in 2007 and 2008, the last two years the conference was held in Monterey.
I can only do really serious writing for a couple of hours. And then I always go on a walk. I do a one-to-two-hour walk; I don't go running or hard hiking.
I don't know if it's a failure of imagination on my part, but I'm not going to be writing about Paris in the 1800s. I feel like it would come off as just ludicrously uninformed, even if I did a lot of research. Failure
I don't mind finding these ugly sides to my personality and exaggerating them because that's something you can write towards.
I drop my kid off at school and then race home, and it's a very limited time. I can only do really serious writing for a couple of hours. And then I always go on a walk, I do a one-to-two-hour walk; I don't go running or hard hiking. Time
I guess that's what art is: Turning something painful into something people can relate to. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I just feel like there's this illicit thrill in reading other people's mail and spying on their lives.
I keep an elaborate calendar for my characters detailing on which dates everything happens. I'm constantly revising this as I go along. It gives me the freedom to intricately plot my story, knowing it will at least hold up on a timeline. Freedom & Liberty
I know what it's like to feel snobby; I know what it's like to feel anxiety; I know what it's like to feel like busted because you're crazy.
I learned that comedy is born out of strong characters. I won't begin writing a character until I have a clear take on them.
I love epistolary novels and became wildly excited when the form presented itself to me. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I must say, it was a lot easier writing novels than I thought it would be. I think it's because I'm a novelist at heart, and it took me a while to figure that out.
I naively thought I would quit television writing, move up to Seattle, my novel would come out, and then I'd have a novel writing career, and so I found myself really stuck in this very poisonous self-pitying state and felt like I'd never write again. And I blamed Seattle for that.
I never understood the concept of a fluffy summer read. For me, summer reading means beaches, long train rides and layovers in foreign airports. All of which call for escaping into really long books.
I quickly realized that shopping on Amazon had made the idea of parking my car and going into a store feel like an outrageous imposition on my time and good nature. Time ;Nature
I steer clear of any novel that gets billed as a 'meditation.'
I suppose I could admire all these slow Seattle drivers for their safety-mindedness, consideration for others, and peace of mind. Instead, I'm a fury of annoyance. War & Peace
I survived many a youth hostel bunk room reading Tolstoy by flashlight.
I think a novel has to be about where you are at a given moment in time. I think it really needs to represent some specific pain you're going through. it's not just a story. Time
I think because I try to keep things as real as I can, or I try to start from a place of reality, I almost don't have the imagination to write a book that's not set where I am.
I think that everyone in Seattle, their daily existence, is enriched by all the charitable giving that is courtesy of Microsoft.
I think that's the most important job of a novelist - to bring authority to their writing.
I try to begin with a strong grasp of my characters. Even if it's schematic, I need it clear in my head who these people are.
If I had written something, and I had written myself into a corner, I didn't abandon it. Because I remembered: There's always more.
If you're an artist and you're on Twitter, you are doomed to mediocrity.
I'm consistently blown away by 'Mad Men.' Having spent so much time in the writers' room, I'm cursed in that anytime I watch something, I'm always calculating what the writers are up to. Time
I'm not the comedy police, but you watch a movie, and everyone's laughing, and then you shake it out, and you realize, 'There's no joke there!'
In a lot of ways, TV writing taught me how to be a good storyteller. I learned about dialogue, scenes, moving the plot forward.
In my high-minded and naive way, I believed the only books worth reading were the classics.
In TV writing, I felt like Gulliver being tied down by the Lilliputians. There's so much more freedom in fiction writing. Freedom & Liberty
It was important for me early on to find the voice of each character and figure out what was unique about them and their individual worldview that I could use for comedy or conflict.
It's great to be able to just go with an idea and not have 10 people in a room telling me why I can't write in a huge mud slide at a school function with 50 kindergartners running around.
'Mad About You' fit my sensibility the most of any show that I worked on, and as a result, it was really fun. It felt like a very natural fit.
Much of the time in the writer's room is spent working on story, and I was always challenging myself to make it more interesting, tighter and more surprising: to come at it sideways in a way that the audience wasn't expecting. Time
My father was a screenwriter, and I kind of grew up in that world.
My father was a screenwriter, and I kind of grew up in that world. I always had a mind for characters and dialogue, and my head was filled with that stuff, so it seemed like a good place to start.
My favorite kind of book is a domestic drama that's grounded in reality yet slightly unhinged.
My first novel didn't sell well. It was really painful and humiliating and shocking to me.
My strength as a TV writer was my total lack of interest in television.
My summer reading suggestion: Pick a really famous, really long novel. Fame
My talent isn't so much in traditional research as in finding really smart people and badgering them with questions.
Novels demand a certain complexity of narrative and scope, so it's necessary for the characters to change.
On Jan. 1, 2012, I resolved to not buy anything from Amazon for a year.
On my walks, that's when the good ideas come. The kind of hard, gritty work is when you're sitting at the computer and it's kind of intense and you're kind of in super control of it - the walks are when you let go. That's when the really big breakthroughs come in, and it's very strange. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
One reason I find all this character growth and narrative swerving so exhilarating is because I never got to do it when I wrote for TV. Our characters needed to remain consistent from week to week.
Ruthless concern with story is what I learned in television.
Some people, especially literary people, they think, 'I'll write this original script, and it will be full of ideas. I'll submit it, and they'll hire me for television.' That's not the case.
The one constant in my life has been my love of books: reading them, thinking about them, talking about them, holding them, turning people on to new ones. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
There's a happiness that comes from writing that I won't live without. Happiness & Unhappiness
There's something uniquely exhilarating about puzzling together the truth at the hands of an unreliable narrator. Truth
This is Seattle. We're supposed to have superior taste.
We need to preserve our neighborhoods, our small business, our local economy. Business, Commerce & Finance
When I came back from my first TED, very few people knew what it was. But around the time I was sitting down to write 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette,' in 2010, TED was exploding. Time
When I graduated high school, I was one of many English-majors-to-be traveling through Europe with a copy of 'Let's Go Europe' in one hand, 'Anna Karenina' in the other, a Eurail pass for a bookmark.
When I wrote for TV, I was always thinking in terms of character and story. After fifteen years, it became hard-wired in me.
When you become a parent, that's a whole new level of life intruding. Nobody tells you how boring and time-sucking it's going to be! Or how the responsibility feels like an airbag going off in your life. Life
When you need a good laugh, do you reach for a book? I don't. I expect books to move me deeply and submerge me in another reality. So when a novel makes me roar with laughter, it's always a delightful surprise.
'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' is an epistolary novel - one told in letters. I had no idea how much fun it would be, puzzling together the plot with letters and documents.
'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' was surprisingly easy and fun to write because I was feeling such strong emotions.
Writing a novel is so hard, and there are so many problems that the last thing you're thinking about is adapting this mess you have on your hands as a movie. You just want to get it to work as a novel. That's your main focus. Work, Workers & The Labor Force