Cell to Cell, Sentence Upon Sentence
14 May 2009
An interesting blog post from novelist David Francis about the dubious considerations of literary “success” in a publishing environment that is less and less interested in building up a writer’s career/readership slowly, over time. ”You wrote a hit,” the agent might say, “so now give us more of the same. That’s what your readers want.” Francis admirably resists. No, “admirably” isn’t quite right; he resists because there is no other choice. A literary writer only writes well when he writes from the gut — inductively, not deductively. Francis writes:
I’ll honor that desire to lay out the lines of words as they appear, as Annie Dillard suggests, securing a sentence before building on it, allowing it to grow “cell to cell, bole to bough to twig to leaf; any careful word may suggest a route, may begin a strand of metaphor or event out of which much, or all, will develop.” That still feels right to me, to let it be what it becomes.
Let’s hope Francis’s agent gets it.