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Category Archives: writing

Craft & Mechanics of Prose II

Here is one final recitation of the five formal practices. Radiant ignition is the first. Sprays of light can bear their own weight or lift something heavy; they can, like a golden envelope, surround an object or, like a glistening worm, move inside it. Rarity, which comes second, is a property belonging to weightless things, […]

Craft & Mechanics of Prose

As stumbling is the motion of all skating, so skating is the motion of all imagining: picturing requires “a pitch / Beyond our usual hold upon ourselves.” When the sound of sledding or skating is given onomatopoetically, it is usually given as a hissing sound—“We hissed along the polished ice in games,” says Wordsworth—or a […]

A Literature of Inimitable Relics

Contrary to history, art describes individuals, desires only the unique. It does not classify, it unclassifies. No matter how much they may engage us, our generalizations may be likened to those pursued upon the planet Mars, and three lines drawn to intersect them might form a triangle on all the points of the universe. But […]

A Radical Openness to Persuasion

Though the artist has beliefs, like other people, he realizes that a salient characteristic of art is a radical openness to persuasion. Even those beliefs he’s surest of, the artist puts under pressure to see if they will stand. He may have a pretty clear idea where his experiment will lead, as Dostoevsky did when […]

Tiresome Novel Synopsis

The other day I had the experience of talking to a young man of the same age as the girls I find I can’t talk to. He was a little older perhaps, 23, just out of Harvard, and wanting to write. I had never heard of him but he called me up and asked if […]

Snipped and Shaped and Built On

The temptation is to give what you overhear great credence, as if people would only say what they really think about you behind your back. But behind your back is also where people are most free to vent, to be peevish, unfair, sniping, and slanted; behind your back is where they are most apt to […]

All That Has Dark Sounds

Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles and makes Goya, master of the greys, silvers and pinks of the finest English art, paint with his knees and fists in […]

No End To This

I hope the novel proves to be retrievable. I enjoy retrieving mine better than I do writing them. Perhaps you finished it under a strain. Try rearranging it backwards and see what you see. I thought this stunt up from my art classes, where we always turn the picture upside down, on its two sides, […]

About Writing — Linkdump

Mostly sf writing. Simone de Beauvoir – interview with Madeleine Gobeil Jorge Luis Borges – “The Metaphor” (and the rest of This Craft of Verse) Samuel R Delany – “About 5,750 Words” (and the rest of The Jewel-Hinged Jaw) Ursula K Le Guin – “Science Fiction and Mrs Brown” (all of The Language of the […]

Characters in Tailspin

Jacqueline and Jemima are instructing Zeno, who has returned the purloined GRE documents and is thus restored to dull respectability, in Postmodernism. Postmodernism, they tell him, has turned its back on the world, is not about the world but about its own processes, is masturbatory, certainly chilly, excludes readers by design, speaks only to the […]