a blog by Matthew Cheney
An interesting interview. Of course, those of us who like to scribble in many forms don't object to somebody else doing it. Doesn't one thing transform another?Borges made a comment somewhere about his energies being spread between poetry and fiction and about not knowing whether one was superior to the other--he declared that he did not know whether the tail wagged the dog or the dog wagged the tail. Somehow I can't recall whether poetry got to be the dog, or whether it was relegated to the mere sprig of a tail...
I do think writing in various forms and genres etc. leads to interesting effects for the writer eventually, but in my case, I think it's caused me to be very slow to develop any work of a quality that I can have any pride in or that seems worth foisting off on the world. For a while I regretted not having stuck with a form or style long enough to move beyond general competence, but now I'm beginning to see in new stuff that I write how what has felt like a very long apprenticeship can be a good thing in terms of the work that's ultimately produced. Every writer has their own rate of progress, and it's not linear, but it's hard for us not to compare ourselves and it's hard to get out of the habit of thinking that just because we wrote something worthwhile last time that the next thing will be even better. It doesn't work that way.
Excellent interview. "...the characters are words, and the words can be changed." Amen.I was in the audience at a convention panel several years ago when the topic of characters came up. One writer on the panel went on at great length about her characters assuming their own lives, making their own decisions, talking back to her, etc. Tim Powers was also on the panel, and replied, "When my characters start talking back to me, I tell them to shut up and get back to work."Brett Cox