Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

SURVIVING ON $26,000 A YEAR IN NEW YORK…

November 24th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 11” with Nelson Algren: INTERVIEWER: Did you have any trouble getting The Man with the Golden Arm published? NELSON ALGREN: No, no. Nothing was easier, because I got paid before I wrote it. It got a very lucky deal because they had an awful lot of money, […]

WE STRUGGLE TO DISCOVER THE EFFORTLESS…

November 17th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 10” with James Thurber: INTERVIEWER: Is the act of writing easy for you? THURBER: For me it’s mostly a question of rewriting. It’s part of a constant attempt on my part to make the finished version smooth, to make it seem effortless. A story I’ve been working […]

GIVING CHARACTERS THE WEIGHT OF SCULPTURE…

November 16th, 2016

I’ve read the Russians—Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Pushkin, Solzhenitsyn, &c.—but not for a very, very long time and not with a writer’s eye. The importance of the Russians in literature, however, is repeated again and again as I work my way through the Paris Review interviews. Simenon is no exception. The Paris Review: “The Art […]

WRITERS WRITE WITH HANDS, NOT THEIR MOUTHS…

November 15th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 9” with Georges Simenon: INTERVIEWER: Have you ever dictated fiction, commercial or any other? SIMENON: No. I am an artisan; I need to work with my hands. I would like to carve my novel in a piece of wood. My characters—I would like to have them heavier, […]

WRITING WITH THE WEIGHT OF CÉZANNE…

November 14th, 2016

Bad writing is often referred to as flat, cardboard. The characters have no third dimension. Simenon uses painting as a way to understand how the good writing lifts the story out of the flatland of the page and into the real space of the reader’s imagination. The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 9” […]

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING, SORT OF…

November 13th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 9” with Georges Simenon My first face-to-face contact with a working writer came in the spring of 1981 when I took Daniel Keyes’ short story writing course at Ohio University. I learned a lot from Keyes, but the first lesson he taught me was that most writers […]

ALL NOVELS ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLORATIONS…

November 10th, 2016

When Miguel de Cervantes first sat to write The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, commonly considered to be the first novel, we do not know what was in his mind. After we read the book, however, we gain insight to Cervantes psychology. When a writers creates a world, no matter how narrowly focused, […]

THIS TRULY IS THE WRITER’S ALPHA AND OMEGA…

October 29th, 2016

My father, a very wise man, told me that becoming an overnight success requires years and years of work. Paul Beatty, winner of this year’s Man Booker prize for The Sellout, was rejected 18 times—which pale before James Lee Burke’s 27—before a publisher took a chance. How did Beatty become an overnight success, by doing […]

WRITING IS A VOCATION OF UNHAPPINESS

October 28th, 2016

Often when I tell someone that I’m a writer they gets this dreamy look in their eyes and tell that they wish they could be a writer. I don’t attempt to disillusion them, but in my mind I want to say: “No you don’t. You want to have written in the same way your present […]

THE REAL ART IS IN REVISION AND MORE REVISION…

October 23rd, 2016

Non-artists think that creating perfection is what artists do. They don’t understand the mistakes, the blind alleys, the concepts gone wrong that we face. If were fortunate to work in a forgiving medium like writing, we’re OK with the mistakes. We can revise, change, alter the work in ways that bring our conception into view. […]

AN EDITOR DRAWS THE WRITER INTO THE LIGHT…

September 28th, 2016

(This is the scene that sets up the insight above. Truly. Perfectly. Genius.) Any writer who believes they don’t need an editor is a fool. I’ve seen the difference. I’ve shaken my head reading well established authors, too good and too arrogant to suffer the critique of an editor, write trash. Colin Firth’s Max Perkins […]

RESEARCH IS EASY, SITTING TO WRITE IS HARD…

September 18th, 2016

I’ve been reading The Guardian’s My Writing Day series for a few week now and, while I think the personal essays are interesting, none has yet spoken to me as has that by Tracy Chevalier. She struck a nerve with her frankness and insight. Chevalier, in Writing is a magic trick that still surprises me […]

YOU CAN’T PAY ATTENTION WHILE TEXTING…

September 11th, 2016

This is, of course, a lesson we continuously attempt to impart–-Stay Alive! Don’t text and drive!—to those navigating a ton of metal and plastic at speed down our streets and highways, but the same can be said about how we now walk through life. I wonder how many budding writers are begin crippled by always […]

MANIPULATORS & DEPICTERS OF MORAL PROBLEMS…

September 1st, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. ELLISON: You know, I’m still thinking of your question about the use of Negro experience [How representative of the American nation would you say Negro folklore is?] as material for fiction. One function of serious literature is to deal with the moral core […]

RALPH ELLISON NAILS THE AMERICAN THEME…

August 25th, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. INTERVIEWER: Would you say that the search for identity is primarily an American theme? ELLISON: It is the American theme. The nature of our society is such that we are prevented from knowing who we are. It is still a young society, and […]

FROM PURPOSE TO PASSION TO PERCEPTION

August 23rd, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. INTERVIEWER: Did you have everything thought out before you began to write Invisible Man? ELLISON: The symbols and their connections were known to me. I began it with a chart of the three-part division. It was a conceptual frame with most of the […]

THE JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT…

August 22nd, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison. INTERVIEWER: Can you give us an example of the use of folklore in your own novel? ELLISON: There are certain themes, symbols, and images which are based on folk material. For example, there is the old saying among Negroes: If you’re black, stay […]

ALL WRITERS ARE A MINORITY OF ONE…

August 21st, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 8” with Ralph Ellison: INTERVIEWER: But isn’t it going to be difficult for the Negro writer to escape provincialism when his literature is concerned with a minority? ELLISON: All novels are about certain minorities: the individual is a minority. The universal in the novel—and isn’t that what […]

INSPIRATION BE DAMNED, PAY FECKIN’ ATTENTION…!

August 5th, 2016

I would say that “Where do you get your ideas from?” is the most frequent question asked of writers, but I’ll give Hilary Mantel her due. The most frequent question writers are asked is some variant on, “Do you write every day, or do you just wait for inspiration to strike?” I want to snarl, […]

EVERY SYMPHONY BEGINS WITH A SINGLE NOTE…

August 1st, 2016

The Paris Review: “The Art Of Fiction No. 7” with Joyce Cary: INTERVIEWER: Could you tell us something about your working methods? CARY: Well—I write the big scenes first, that is, the scenes that carry the meaning of the book, the emotional experience. The first scene in Prisoner of Grace was that one at the […]

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