“Writing a novel—for me, at least—is like answering a craigslist ad placed by a group of people seeking a roommate. You meet them; you like them; you move in; but within a short period of time, all of them have moved out, and new people have moved in, and these new people, it turns out, are the ones you’re going to live with for the next few years.”
“While one can’t learn the ineffables of writing from the page or a person—voice, innate talent, insightful narrative—one can gain skill sets and learn tools. Like architecture or painting, one’s concept and talent requires more than paper and pen.”
“I wish I were one of those people with very set routines, lovely offices, fresh flowers, yoga poses, no Internet, and so on. But I’m not. I’m the queen of clutter and chaos”: Robin Black talks with Nichole Bernier about hipness, success, and her new novel, Life Drawing.
In the newest contribution to our Teaching Writing Series, Laura Valeri describes the rewards of teaching her students to utilize primary research such as oral histories, court transcripts, and testimonies as avenues for inspiring their own fiction, as well as how working with these resources can prompt productive classroom discussions on “ownership, truth in fiction, and about the ethical nuances of writing another person’s story.”
“When structure is done well, it should be like architecture: you sense the overall feel of the building—tall, or airy, or strong—but you’re not looking at the buttresses that hold it up or the seams where parts are fastened together.”
“I heard Marilynne Robinson say once that “we can never escape the landscape of our preoccupations.” I was struck by that phrase and I think of it all the time, the landscape of our preoccupations. I feel liberated by it.”
“Writing the surfing scenes terrified me. I worried about pushing readers away—writing passages that would only connect to surfers and not to the larger audience. But the bigger concern was just what you describe: the inability to translate such a physical sensation onto the page.”
Editor’s Note: The Hopwood Room Roundtable is a weekly event in which visiting writers of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing discuss their work and the writing life with the University of Michigan’s student body, faculty, and the local literary community. Inside the Hopwood Room, friends and colleagues caught up over coffee and cookies, discussing avalanche survival tactics and personal rules about never living in alligator-populated states, awaiting the main event: an in-the-flesh Genius. When Karen Russell—novelist, short story writer, MacArthur Genius Fellow, and probably the most easy-to-be-around and gracious person you’ll ever encounter—entered the room, which was […]
Alex Shakespeare talks with William Boyle about his first novel, Gravesend, which releases this month, as well as leaving a place to write about it, crime as character study, and what we get from novels that we can’t find in other art forms.