Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reading Like a Writer; A lecture by Francine Prose

Last night I went to the Francine Prose lecture put on by the Lancaster Literary Guild. Francine talked about her book Reading Like a Writer. Some things I got from her lecture.

1. Good writers can be created from good readers.
2. Reading the classics is a must for writers. Well-written books that have survived centuries are around for a reason. And it is good to know the traditon that has brought us to this point.
3. Today's writers don't often read classics. They read the latest novel by whomever has scored a six-figure advance in the hopes that by dissecting the book, they too can acheive a six-figure advance.
4. MFA programs don't support reading. They are programs based on the supposition that critiquing other writers and having them critique you will make you stronger writer.
5. Francine thinks that writing non-ficition is easier. She has lots of unfinished novels sitting around. (I shouldn't be so hard on myself.)
6. Considering your audience can be a tricky thing.
7. Novel writing doesn't get easier with each novel, even though it should.
8. Copying out long passages of great literature can help make you a better writer because you get a real feel for the words and phrasing you might not otherwise get by reading. (As someone who has read lots and lots of books aloud to my kids, I think that reading passages out loud also helps. Maybe not in the same way, but I am willing to try both methods.)

Did this lecture comfort me as a writer? In some ways, I suppose. I have struggled for years with the concept of the group critique. It is the reason I am not in a writing group. I don't want too much input. Maybe that's because I have not found anybody with whom I feel has a similar sensibility. I do feel as though reading is the key to better writing. I would like to read more classics in the new year. I have been toying with this idea anyway because of the list Roger gave me. I don't really want an MFA, but at the same time, I think I would like being in an academic setting again, possibly as a professor. How would I become a professor without an advanced degree. HMM? But I do; I learn so much when I teach because I always put so much research into my lessons.

So, on the one hand, I felt alive after the lecture. On the other hand, I felt a bit sunk. I got some books signed by her. I did not tell her I was an author. Why not? I am not embarrassed by my book. I'm proud. I guess I just didn't see the reason to put that out there--especially since I'm not sure where I am going from here.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Wow. Good news for me, seeing I don't have an MFA either and am addicted to reading. Perhaps it's time for me to revisit the classics too. Where would you start? Dickens?