Monday, April 27, 2009

fiction: closing time

My coverage of the Fiction: Closing Time panel is up at Jacket Copy.

Kellogg asked the panelists about their writing routines, which invariably led to a discussion of how to handle Internet distractions. Tower has two desks, one for nonfiction with Internet access and one for fiction without. He finds the Web “awful and irresistible.”

Stahl wondered what Dostoevsky would have done if he could have Googled vodka. Of course, writing is revising more often than not. Tower said that revision is not cleaning up after the party; it is the party. He then said he had realized that, in fact, there is no party.

Stahl told the story of Stanley Elkin, such a compulsive rewriter that he would often ride the truck to the printer, making last minute changes. DeWitt waits until he is completely finished with a book to consider public reception, relying on his wife’s tough editing. Stahl puts his work through Carver’s “cringe test,” but he also made the distinction between cringing and squirming. According to Bruce J. Friedman, if it makes you squirm, you should keep going.

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