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October 10th, 2010 / 3:14 pm
Craft Notes

Padgett Powell gives a little writing advice

This was just posted to Unsaid literary journal’s Facebook. Reposted here in case you don’t do the Facebook. (If you do do the Facebook, you should click on the link: “like” the post, “friend” the journal, &c.) There’s also an interview with Powell in the new issue of the New York Tyrant.

Keep in mind what writing should do:

1) Be alive.

2) Be surprising.

3) Obey tenets of economy, verve, etc.

4) Amount to something (usually, in terms of having “something at stake”).

5) Payoff (i.e., resolve).

Any three of five is worth spoiling paper for. It should be remembered also that:

6) Brave wild failure is applauded.

And that:

7) You should be less comfortable if you’re pretty sure of what you’re writing about.

And that:

8) You should ignore, at all times, all sense of authorial narrative obligations, and, certainly, your own preconceptions and ideas.

This is more preaching than could possibly be salubrious. So, some more: Obey only the logic of immediacy, from word to word. Or, obey only its obverse, the illogic of immediacy, or the logic of inimmediacy, as you prefer.

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