Jane Smiley

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The author’s journey

If you’re wondering about the writing process and how it works, here are a few posts by different authors.

David Vann on becoming a writer and how he does it.

Adam Rabinowitz explains his writing process.

In Heaven’s Rage, Leslie Tate explores the aspects of writing and the creative process. He shares more along with Sue Hampton and Cy Henty in The Dream Speaks Back.

George Saunders on what writers really do when they write.

Finally, while not on writing, I found reading 13 Ways of looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley very helpful in understanding the book and its relationship with the author, reader and publisher. Here, another reader on a writer’s journey shares her thoughts on the same book.

first published 7 August 2017, updated 2024

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Drafts – how tedious

Every author I speak to complains about rewrites and working through drafts. My author self does too, although to be honest, it can sometimes be quite a cathartic process – but that might be more so for non-fiction writing than fiction.

Regardless, the necessity of reworking the first draft is imperative. I can only shake my head in disbelief when an author says to me, ‘But I’ve already been through the manuscript 19 times.’ Only 19? The little forest (printed double sided of course) next to your shredder should speak for itself.

Until you get that first draft written though, you can’t do anything else with it. And, no matter how much it evolves or not, it will always contain that initial germ of an idea which developed and grew into the final product.

first published 25 August 2017, updated 2024

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Authors and Writers #review #writingadvice

Keep remembering that you can please some of the readers some of the time, and some of the readers most of the time, but sometimes you will please only yourself, and you can never please all of the readers all of the time.

(p216)

Good advice from Jane Smiley in 13 Ways of looking at the Novel.

This has been a long read, not only because the book itself is long but because I took a break to focus on other things. My engagement with the book started soon after I started a local book group and felt the need to engage with novels beyond my historical themed interest.

Jane’s take on the novel and how it engages with the reader spoke to me, the relationship between author, paper and reader continuing to do so. Significantly, so does the quote above. This echoes with the advice I regularly give new writers – write the book you would like to read (unless you’re only out to make money, then read and follow the ‘how to write a novel’ books).

Jane’s analysis of the novel and how readers engage together with the little gems she imparts such as that quoted above make it a text I would recommend to new writers looking for guidance on what and how to write.