A translation guide to writing workshops that we’re definitely printing out and bringing along to our next one. “Sometimes when people say ‘show, don’t tell,’ what they mean is that they find the characters sympathetic, the story is moving forward, and they even like the conflict, but they just don’t like the way you wrote it. What they’d really like to do is steal the idea and write it themselves, because honestly, they would do a much better job.”
“The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of ‘imaginative power,’ and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.” Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and “the imperial self” in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
It’s a common trope in writing courses that young artists need a dose of childlike creativity. Self-help books for people with writer’s block are filled with callbacks to childhood interests. But is it possible, as Tasha Golden argues at the Ploughshares blog, that idealizing children isn’t the answer to our problems?
Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers living abroad. As he puts it, “But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff? Or is there an advantage in being away from what is perhaps only the flavor of the day at home, the expressions invented today and gone tomorrow? Then, beyond specifically linguistic concerns, what audience do you write toward if you are no longer regularly speaking to people who use your language?” Pair with Hannah Gersen’s Millions piece on reading the English translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words.