20 December 2004

The Eleventh Draft

MFA students (or wannabes) would likely enjoy The Eleventh Draft: Craft and the Writing Life from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop edited by Frank Conroy.

Essays by Boyle, Canin, Dybek, Leebron, Prose, McPherson, Verghese, Offutt, and many more Iowa graduates.

Fred Leebron [best essay, imho]: “the concept of ‘crisis’ is the concept of loss of control, that a writer needs to lose control . . . all those people in that story, that are coming not to just one conclusion but many conclusions.”

Ethan Canin: “I came to Iowa. I stopped writing. Almost immediately and almost completely. . . . For a year and a half I wrote nothing.”

Barry Hannah: “Without the intense image my work dwindles quickly into dishonest and empty sentences.”

Susan Power: “a strategy I use when I am most desperate: I interview my characters.”

Francine Prose quoting Chekhov: “Best of all is to avoid depicting the hero’s state of mind; you ought to try to make it clear from the hero’s actions.”

Marilynne Robinson: “writers have to think . . . they have to be faithful to everything they know, in the way that they know it, through all the nerves that feed the voracious brain.”

James Hynes: “Good prose is like a window pane.”

Chris Offutt: “The move to revision became so complete that I no longer cared about the story as product. What mattered was the evolution of the act of creation.”

I’d call this a part-bio, part-craft, part-inspirational book. A few essays (Leebron, Livesey, Robinson, McPherson) are probably worth reading five or ten times. Thanks to Linera Lucas for the recommendation.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to be on the look out for this book, c!