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Writing as Seduction
Artist's Inspiration

Writing as Seduction

French-Russian novelist Francine Du Plessix Gray always begins her writing classes by asking students to compare the following sentences, the first from Nabokov’s memoir of his youth in pre-Revolutionary Russia, Speak Memory, the second from Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. “She turned on the steps to look back at me before descending into a jasmine-scented, … Continue reading

Productive Idleness: Why Play is More Important than Discipline to Creativity
Artist's Inspiration

Productive Idleness: Why Play is More Important than Discipline to Creativity

“‘It must take so much discipline to be an artist,’ we are often told by well-meaning people who are not artists but wish they were. What a temptation. What a seduction. They’re inviting us to preen before an admiring audience, to act out the image that is so heroic and Spartan-and false. As artists, grounding … Continue reading

Clutter is the Disease of American Writing
The Writing Process

Clutter is the Disease of American Writing

“Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon…Our national tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important. The airline pilot who announces that he is presently anticipating experiencing considerable precipitation wouldn’t think of saying it may rain. The sentence is too … Continue reading