Monday, June 6, 2011

/One/: Interview with Jennifer Egan

Check out this wonderful online journal, co-edited by one of my former students from Johns Hopkins, Joshua Korenblat: /One/:  Here's an excerpt from his excellent interview with Jennifer Egan:

/One/: How much do you judge the first drafts of your work? I read that you handwrite your first drafts on yellow legal pads. Do you do that as a way to keep yourself in a creative flow, in a way that you can’t find on screen?

JE: Yes, that’s exactly why. I don’t want to think and judge. I just try to let something happen. I’m waiting for my unconscious mind to kick-in. Once I have the interesting material, I use my conscious mind to shape it, and try to understand it and make it fulfill whatever vision it seems it could be manifesting. But I can’t come up with the material consciously.

/One/: You like to generate potentially too much material?

JE: I don’t know if it’s too much—it’s often wrong. Much of it is no good; I’m just looking for the part that is good. It doesn’t matter what proportion of it is good, as long as there’s something that’s interesting. The first draft of The Keep was really, really terrible. Not much was good in there. But there were a couple of insights that proved really useful. The critical insight turned out to be that the story was being written by a prisoner in a prison writing class. I never would have discovered that if I hadn’t just written it and seen it on the page. It’s unfortunate that I had to spew out so much dreck to see that, but the insight ended up being very useful to me.


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