Thursday, 31 October 2013

WRITERS ON WRITING #39: Deborah Eisenberg

Of course, there are ancillary advantages to writing fiction. You get to leave your body, for instance, so you can have experiences that a person with your physical characteristics couldn’t actually have.
  I find it endlessly interesting, endlessly funny, the fact that we’re rather arbitrarily divided up into these discrete humans and that your physical self, your physical attributes, your moment of history and the place where you were born determine who you are as much as all that indefinable stuff that’s inside of you.  It seems so ridiculous.  Why can’t I just buckle on my sword and leap on my horse and go charging through the forests?
  But the real fun of writing, for me at least, is the experience of making a set of givens yield.  There’s an incredibly inflexible set of instruments—our vocabulary, our grammar, the abstract symbols on paper, the limitations of your own powers of expression.  You write something down and it’s awkward, trivial, artificial, approximate.  But with effort you can get it to become a little flexible, a little transparent.  You can get it to open up, and expose something lurking there beyond the clumsy thing you first put down.  When you add a comma or add or subtract a word, and the thing reacts and changes, it’s so exciting that you forget how absolutely terrible writing feels a lot of the time.

The Art of Fiction #218  [The Paris Review #204, Spring 2013)


Click HERE to read the full interview with DEBORAH EISENBERG by CATHERINE STEINDLER posted in the online archive of The Paris Review.

You might also enjoy:
WRITERS ON WRITING #29: Annie Proulx 
WRITERS ON WRITING #27: Tahar Ben Jelloun
WRITERS ON WRITING #24: Jerzy Kosinski

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