Friday, February 10, 2017

Listening to Writers Talk About Writing

Two weeks ago, I got to go to Eastern Illinois University’s annual literary festival, Lions in Winter, and do what I love most: listen to writers talk about writing.   

If it were possible, I would spend every hour of the weekend at literary festivals listening to writers talk about writing.  Given the choice between going to a literary festival to listen to writers talk about writing and going out for a pizza and a movie with some friends, I most definitely would choose to go to a literary festival and listen to writers talk about writing.  

Unfortunately for us all, literary festivals don’t come around frequently enough. So where are we to go if we want to listen to writers talk about writing?  There’s nowhere else, right? 


I recently stumbled across a podcast produced by The New Yorker, which features the most prominent writers of our time talking to Deborah Treisman, their fiction editor.  The podcast, simply called “Fiction” has a whole lot of what I lovmost. 

What makes this podcast stand out is that the featured author talks about the writing of an author they admire, not their own writing. Jonathan Franzen talks about the writing of David Means; George Saunders reads and discusses Grace Paley and Barry Hannah; and Jhumpa Lahiri chats about what she loves in the fiction of William Trevor.  If you want to listen to writers talk about writing, this podcast is the place to do it. 

I’ve learned a lot about the craft of fiction by listening to these writers talk about writing.  Saunders' insightful analysis of the characters in Grace Paley’s story, “Love,” taught me how narrative ambiguity can be used to make a fictional world seem more realistic.  From Jonathan Franzen’s interview on the writing of Veronica Geng, I learned about the humor inherent in repetition.   

The Fiction podcast is typically about an hour long and is released monthly. If you'd like to learn more about Lions in Winter, you can find out more information on their website

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a creative writer, but I really enjoyed the two craft talks I attended -- one on setting in mystery novels (thanks Erica Wright!) and one on the poetry of picture books (thank to Janice Harrington!). Both enriched my understanding of the books I read by asking me to do some writing and talk about it.