Seminar When does it become clear that you are writing a novel? How do you discover that your stories might be intertwined as a collection? That your fiction quite often invites memoir? These are questions that often come to mind when reading work-in-progress at Columbia. There is, of course no set form, never should be, but each time out the writer confronts the nature of his pages unless he is writing genre fiction, or he’s reporting in with Google entries or Facebook to be considered in the mix.
We will read stories from collections that reveal the writer’s thematic concerns, public and often personal—Calvino, Kafka, Eudora Welty, Angela Carter, Debora Eisenberg, John Cheever, Sebald; and why not turn back to Dubliners, to Beckett’s first time out?
Writing fiction begins with a process of fracturing. We chip away at known reality, take pieces of it, and then set off to elaborate and assemble in order to try to press toward the art of experience that resists knowing yet tempts us with the possibility of understanding. And because a thing that is individually and lovingly made reveals aspects of the person who made it, the end product of this process of assembling, the collage that is fiction, involves self-portraiture.
--Joanna Scott, The Believer