April 16, 2009

Cows say moo-se, we say moose

I never heard the name Wells Tower until the other day, when I happened to skim the blog of The New Yorker. Since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about him, 1. because of his cool name, and 2. because of what he said in the interview – highly quotable stuff...this fellow sure knows how to speak about his craft.

Wells Tower on longhand vs. typing:

"If I’m really stuck, I go back to longhand. There’s something about the privacy and the immediacy of it that seems to help. When you’re writing longhand, your attention is on the sentence—you’re not looking at the full page. The remove between the keyboard and the screen can hamper me and mess me up. The trick is to will yourself into the hypnotic state where you believe your own language and your own story. You have to pare out distractions, especially the vast banality of the Internet, which I find lethal to fiction writing. Fiction is so much harder and scarier to write than nonfiction. It requires an enormous amount of concentration and faith to carve out that little bit of space into which you can insert a world that feels real."

How revisions can be like dying male moose:

"There’s this metaphor I settled on for revisions. I was in Alaska on a kayaking trip, and I was warned by this park ranger to be really careful in the arctic lakes when the moose are around. A male moose will jump into the lake with the idea that a female moose is on the other side, and then he’ll get to the other side and think that the female is on the other side, and often the moose will continue to go back and forth until he drowns from his own indecision. To me, it’s a sitting metaphor for revision. You can’t keep mindlessly pacing from one impulse to another or you’ll drive yourself insane."
Ah, I always enjoy a good moose quotation.

1 comment:

Kara said...

This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks, you hot dog gourmand you.