Elena Ferrante’s introduction to the Folio edition of Sense and Sensibility is available at The Guardian. She describes the experience of reading Jane Austen as a girl. “At the time, I was enthralled by the great male adventure novels, with their stories that ranged all over the world, and I wanted to write such books myself: I couldn’t resign myself to the idea that women’s novels were domestic tales of love and marriage. I was past 20 when I returned to Austen. And from that moment not only did I love everything she had written but I was passionate about her anonymity.”
When you want to distinguish fiction and poetry writing from academic work or journalism, you use a straightforward term: creative writing. But what if that term is not the one you should use? At Slate, an article on the subject by Cydney Alexis, originally published by Inside Higher Ed.
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
“Officials in charge of an Australian writers festival were so upset with the address by their keynote speaker, the American novelist Lionel Shriver, that they censored her on the festival website and publicly disavowed her remarks.” Dang. (We agree, it was pretty bad – she wore a sombrero for most of her speech.) Writers’ conferences: They’re intense.