Snowstorm, 1842, J. M.W. Turner
In case you missed it, SBWC hosted a lively panel discussion in September, inaugurating our 2014-1015 theme, Living The Writer’s Life. There were two fiction writers, two non-fiction writers, a poet, and a curious and well-informed audience, making for a wide-ranging and insightful couple of hours on a beautiful fall morning.
The questions of process are of endless fascination, it seems, not least to the writers who face the blank page every day. We have a deep-seated curiosity about, as well as a professional interest in, knowing how others approach their work. Writing, like all art, is a creative act, dependent on unpredictable and often ephemeral elements, such as inspiration and association. It’s no wonder we shine the light outward. Like Ann Beattie, I harbor a secret hope that with each project I will find the key to all future work; that with one poem, or short story, or novel, I will unlock the door to the one true way.
I approach the author interview, the panel discussion, and the craft book the same way: with hope, if not for magic keys, than at least for sign posts to help me on my way. In Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, Peter Turchi notes that, as writers, we are both explorers and guides. Our work both takes us to unexpected places and prepares the way for those that follow.
E.B. White, Wallace Stegner, John Gardner, Charles Baxter, John Dufresne Ray Bradbury, Steven King, Anne Lamott, Ursula Le Guin, all put their hand sooner or later to books about writing. From inspiration to academic, the list of craft books is rich and diverse (visit The Writer’s Bookshelf page on this blog), and serve to clear the path for both beginning and more experienced writers.
Periodicals are both more topical and wide ranging, covering craft issues, the business of writing, as well as author, agent and publisher interviews. Poets & Writers, Writers’ Digest, The Writer, The Writer’s Chronicle (published by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs), all continue the conversation between writers, offering inspiration, encouragement, and practical advice.
And if all that is not enough, if only a Hemingway, Faulkner, Dinesen, or Welty will do, there are the archives of the Paris Review and the New Yorker, where the voices of the dead (and others) still ring loud and true in fascinating and timeless interviews.
Artistic creation is a voyage into the unknown, write’s Peter Turchi. And that is true. But it is a ship built of many hands.
Hollis Shore is a co-founder of the Seven Bridge Writer's Collaborative, and graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults program. She was the 2012-13 Boston Public Library Children's Writer in Residence, and a winner of the PEN New England Discovery Award for her novel, The Curve of The World, out for submission shortly. Contact her at Hollisplus@gmail.com.