Happy Birthday, Antonya Nelson, born 6 January 1961
- I love mystery novels. One of the criticisms I have of a lot of literary fiction is that its writers don’t seem to understand the human wish for mystery and suspense that genre fiction has exploited.
- If I were offering advice (advice that I wish somebody had provided early on for me) it would be to learn to revise. To learn to take pleasure in it. If you write short stories, you’re not going to have a million fresh starts. So learn to live in revision.
- There are a thousand things to hear about, informationally, daily, but the thing that doesn’t go away is the one to pay attention to.
- Many people are encouraged to write novels when what they have on their hands is a short story.
- If the book is finished—published and on the shelf—I do not think of revising it. But if I’m not finished psychologically with characters, they will recur, either as themselves or as new, slightly altered manifestations, and their same issues will reappear.
- If I write one or two stories, they can claim their place, but it doesn’t commit me to the kind of insecurity that a novel does for two, three or four years.
- If you have the impulse to write, trust it implicitly. If you don’t succeed, it probably isn’t an issue of your material, but the delivery and getting it captured on paper. Trust the impulse, and don’t abandon the material. That’s where a workshop can help: text is very malleable and elastic, so it’s helpful to get input on revisions, and to discuss your work with others. It helps shape your work and can lead you to the proper way to get the story told.
Antonya Nelson is an American author and creative writing teacher. She is is the author of nine books of fiction, including Nothing Right: Short Stories and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobody’s Girl, and Living to Tell.
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