Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hoarding Your Ideas & How Writing Can Be Taught

I loved this piece in the Glimmer Train newsletter by Benjamin Percy, whose short story “Refresh, Refresh” was one of the most amazing short stories I’ve read in the past few years:

“Most writers are conservative. By that I mean they lock their best ideas in a vault and take pleasure in the richness of their stores, like misers with their money. Maybe you have moleskins full of hastily scribbled notes. Or a corkboard next to your desk messy with images, structural blueprints, articles ripped from magazines. Or at the very least a folder on your computer labeled Stuff.

“For every story or essay or poem you write, you withdraw one image, two characters, maybe three of the metaphors you have stockpiled—and then slam shut the vault and lock it with a key shaped like a skeleton's finger.

“I used to be the same way, nervously rationing out my ideas.”

Read on here.

I also liked this piece in the same newsletter by J. Kevin Shushtari (though, as usual, I’m terribly jealous of anyone who can be a doctor AND a writer):

“Some time ago, a doctor friend of mine who dabbles in fiction said, "Why are you getting an MFA? Everyone knows writing can't be taught." About to enroll in Boston University's MFA Program, I thought about his comment for a long time. As a doctor myself, I have long known that certain aspects of medicine can't be taught because, well, they're more art than science. Nobody can teach you, for example, how to feel compassion; you either do or you don't. Still, not a single person ever asked me why I was going to medical school. Not a single person said medicine can't be taught.”

Read on here.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.