Poets and Writers





Posted 11.10.16

“I’ve always had a difficult time talking about writing. I’ve never really been able to say the phrase ‘my writing’ without feeling not only self-conscious but also a little bit ridiculous. A lot ridiculous. Even though I do, technically, teach creative writing (and I enjoy it because for me teaching creative writing is teaching literature, and I can never get enough literature) I’ve always had very little advice to give when it comes to how to actually sit down and do this. I mean if people truly want to sit and write something they will sit down and write something and nothing I say, or anyone else says, could ever make much of a difference. I have no tricks to trick anybody—including myself, God knows especially myself—into a chair and concentrate. And yet, and yet, don’t all roads lead to Chekhov? This morning I read a brief story called, ‘In Exile.’ It starts like this: ‘Old Semyon, nicknamed the Explainer, and a young Tartar whose name no one knew, sat on the bank near a bonfire…’ Goddamn, to start a story like this. One guy has two names, the other has none. And I didn’t feel inspired necessarily, but I did feel alive. Alive as if I was out there on the cold riverbank with those two. And I did get back to work, or at least tried to. Needless to say, the Explainer in the story isn’t the one who understands very much.”
—Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here? Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live(Catapult, 2016)

I welcome comments and criticism

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