Wednesday, December 18, 2013

on writing - lorrie moore

I just read an interview The Paris Review did with Lorrie Moore.
Here are some highlights referencing art, inspiration, writing short
stories versus novels, but the whole thing was great and should be
read in its entirety...  here.

"Certainly bitter emotions can fuel art—all kinds of emotions do. But
one is probably best left assembling a narrative in a state of dispassion;
the passion is, paradoxically, better communicated that way."

"One has to imagine, one has to create (exaggerate, lie, fabricate from
whole cloth and patch together from remnants), or the [story] will not
come alive as art. Of course, what one is interested in writing about
often comes from what one has remarked in one’s immediate world
or what one has experienced oneself or perhaps what one’s friends
have experienced. But one takes these observations, feelings, memories,
anecdotes—whatever—and goes on an imaginative journey with them.
What one hopes to do in that journey is to imagine deeply and well and
thereby somehow both gather and mine the best stuff of the world. A
story is a kind of biopsy of human life. A story is both local, specific,
small, and deep, in a kind of penetrating, layered, and revealing way."

By Adrian Bellesguard

"So much about having a manuscript accepted is just out of your hands:
the blood sugar level of a reader, the slant of light across a page, some
personal event in an editor’s life that connects them profoundly with
something you’ve written on page three. Who knows?"

"I believe in inspiration, which in creative writing discussions often gets
short shrifted vis-à-vis ideas of hard, daily effort. But something
uninspired will never recover from that original condition, no matter
how much labor one pours into it."

"I take many notes, as I said, and I try to see that as writing too, which
of course it is. It’s not an especially grueling part but it’s an essential
one. A note registers a moment of special distillation or insight or
oversight or merely a mundane observation. You discover the quality
of your notes much later, but it is important to write them down as they
come to you."

"Most things good for writing are bad for life. 'May your life be not
very good material' is a blessing I offer students and small babies."

"To write a short story, you have to be able to stay up all night. To read
it all in one sitting and at some point see the whole thing through in a
rush is part of the process. There’s urgency and wholeness in stories.
Not necessarily in novels, which may proceed at a more leisurely or
erratic pace. A novelist—like the reader of novels—can check in and
out of the novel at short intervals. One can write it in pieces, just as it
can be read in pieces. A novel’s often a big, sprawling, shapeless thing
—even when it’s short. A story is different. One gives birth to a short
story—to haul out those tired procreative metaphors. But with a novel,
you raise the child."

"You shouldn’t write without inspiration—at least not very often."

"A novel is a job. (Story writers working on a novel are typically in
pain through the entire thing.) But a story can be like a mad, lovely
visitor, with whom you spend a rather exciting weekend."

"It’s a luxury to be able to abandon a story. Ideally, I suppose, that’s how
a writer should work, but I can’t do it anymore. I can’t afford the loss."

"A slower pace, I suppose, helps prevent certain kinds of mistakes. You
are less likely to take off full speed in a foolhardy direction."

"But the more crucial point is the moment you give yourself permission
to do it (become a writer), which is a decision that is both romantic and
bloody-minded—it involves desire and foolish hope, but also a deep
involvement with one’s art, some sort of useful self-confidence, and
some kind of economic plan."

- The Paris Review, "The Art of Fiction No. 167"

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