A writer maximized her authority by choosing a subject she knew intimately and that made her feel helpless. “The best writers are those who put themselves at risk—first destabilize yourself, then restore yourself,” Lish said. How did they restore themselves? By dramatizing their confessions in a way that commanded attention: that was tense, taut, and confident, that had the feeling of an emotional striptease about it. “Mystery is at the very center of what engages the fictional transaction,” Callis recalls Lish saying. “Writing is not about telling; it is about showing, and not showing everything.”

– “Seduce the Whole World: Gordon Lish’s Workshop,” via The New Yorker

The world of creative writing and fiction seems so distant to me now; the work of writing research briefs zaps all of my writing energies these days. This fascinating essay immerses you in eroticism, great writing advice, and gives you a front row seat to a cult of personality. A great read.


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