Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Paris Review

Repetition with a difference

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Kenzaburō Ōe

I am the kind of writer who rewrites and rewrites. I am very eager to correct everything. If you look at one of my manuscripts, you can see I make many changes. So one of my main literary methods is “repetition with difference.” I begin a new work by first attempting a new approach toward a work that I’ve already written—I try to fight the same opponent one more time. Then I take the resulting draft and continue to elaborate upon it, and as I do so the traces of the old work disappear. I consider my literary work to be a totality of differences within repetition.

I used to say that this elaboration was the most important thing for a novelist to learn.

Kenzaburō Ōe, to The Paris Review

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November 9, 2013 at 9:00 am

Anthony Burgess on artistic punctuality

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Anthony Burgess

The practice of being on time with commissioned work is an aspect of politeness. I don’t like being late for appointments; I don’t like craving indulgence from editors in the matter of missed deadlines. Good journalistic manners tend to lead to a kind of self-discipline in creative work. It’s important that a novel be approached with some urgency. Spend too long on it, or have great gaps between writing sessions, and the unity of the work tends to be lost. This is one of the troubles with Ulysses.

Anthony Burgess, to The Paris Review

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March 24, 2013 at 7:59 am

Quote of the Day

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March 8, 2013 at 7:30 am

A writer’s routine: David Mitchell

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David Mitchell

I do my thinking on paper, and act on my thinking on the laptop…

Writing describes a range of activities, like farming. Plowing virgin fields—writing new scenes—demands freshness, but there’s also polishing to be done, fact-checking, character-autobiography writing, realigning the text after you’ve made a late decision that affects earlier passages—that kind of work can be done in the fifth, sixth, and seventh hours. Sometimes, at any hour, you can receive a gift—something that’s really tight and animate and so interesting that I forget the time until my long-suffering wife begins to drop noisy hints.

David Mitchell, to The Paris Review

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February 23, 2013 at 9:50 am

“Writing won’t be so bad once you get into it…”

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Tony Kushner

The lesson I learn over and over again—and then forget over and over again—is that writing won’t be so bad once you get into it. One’s reluctance is immensely powerful. It’s like what Proust says about habit—it seems tiny in the grand arc of a person’s life narrative, but it’s the most insidious, powerful thing. Reluctance is like that.

When you feel most terrified—I think this is true of most writers—it’s because the thing isn’t there in your head. I’ve found it to be the case that you’ve got to start writing, and writing almost anything. Because writing is not simply an intellectual act. It doesn’t happen exclusively in your head. It’s a combination of idea and action, what Marx and Freud called praxis, a combining of the material and the immaterial. The action, the physical act of putting things down on paper, changes and produces a writer’s ideas.

Tony Kushner, to The Paris Review

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February 16, 2013 at 9:50 am

Quote of the Day

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October 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

Posted in Books, Writing

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Elie Wiesel on cutting

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Elie Wiesel

It is a struggle when I have to cut. I reduce nine hundred pages to one hundred sixty pages. I also enjoy cutting. I do it with a masochistic pleasure although even when you cut, you don’t. Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain. There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred pages are there. Only you don’t see them.

Elie Wiesel, to The Paris Review

(Note: Just a reminder that I’ll be at two different panels today at Chicon 7: “Men Writing Women,” at 9:00 am, also featuring Bradley P. Beaulieu, Jan Bogstad, Myke Cole, and Russell Davis; and “Develop Your Story Idea,” at 3:00 pm, with B.A. Chepaitis, Jean Cavelos, Jamie Todd Rubin, and Courtney Schafer. The latter one, in particular, should be especially interesting.)

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September 1, 2012 at 7:30 am

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