I teach one semester a year, and this year I'm just teaching one course during that semester, a writing workshop for older students in their late 20s and early 30s, people in our graduate program who are already working on a manuscript and trying to bring it to completion.
The short story, on the other hand, is the perfect American form.
Everything has to be pulling weight in a short story for it to be really of the first order.
When I was about 14 or 15 I decided to become a writer and never for a moment since have I wanted to do anything else.
Memory is funny. Once you hit a vein the problem is not how to remember but how to control the flow.
Most of us don't live lives that lend themselves to novelistic expression, because our lives are so fragmented.
The reader really has to step up to the plate and read a short story.
There's a joy in writing short stories, a wonderful sense of reward when you pull certain things off.
You don't teach information in a writing workshop.
But a lot of writers - and I'm one of them - do tend to feel dissatisfied. It makes you a little hard to live with, but it's a goad and does keep you alert and restless.
Perhaps that is why the novel flourished in England. You had these communities that would stay put and people would see one another all the time and cause one another to change and have the opportunity to observe the changes over time.
I love Chekhov. I could go on all day about him.
And you can tell the writers who do it - Robert Stone, for example, who with each new novel is doing something new. I appreciate that in other writers.
Anybody can be very destructive in that position without at all meaning to be, and I know that I have been inadvertently destructive in the past for certain people on certain occasions.
Because the more you write the more you're aware of the weight of your tradition and the difficulties of the form and the more you have already done that you do not want to do again.
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