Workshop Fiction Wars

The Open Sentence: A Statement Masquerading as a Manifesto

I say this now because as I'm continuing to write my extended, in depth criticism of Atlas Shrugged, there are going to be times when the close reading will require the engagement of aesthetic rather than political or philosophical concerns. As I'm trying to show that it is the worst book ever written, it is necessary to take on not only the bad ideas in the book and the quality of the storytelling, but also the quality of the craftsmanship at the level of the language. In order that people know where I'm coming from, I figured it would be better to lay it all out here in a brief abstract rather than have to constantly re-state things about what I think makes for good and bad writing within each individual piece.

In writing, where the content is not primarily concerned with the communications of facts or criticism of some form whether it be literal or cultural—that is to say, where it is not political/philosophical treatise, some sort of non-fiction, or the interpretation of other work—I take to be primitive several statements by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Among them:

"Philosophy ought to be written only as a form of poetry."

"What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."

"What can be shewn cannot be said."

"There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical."

"We have got onto slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense conditions are ideal, but also, because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk, therefore we need friction. Back to the rough ground."

"If a lion could speak, we could not understand him."

"In a large number of cases, though not for all, the meaning of a word is it's use in a language-game."

Why I Love Short Stories

I love the short story form. Unlike JF Quackenbush, Flash Fiction always feels incomplete to me, like an appetizer without a main course. And I love novels, but sometimes an idea can and should be expressed compactly; indeed often the joy of the short story is seeing how the author pulls off the full expression of something in so few pages.

Why I Hate Short Stories: A Short Article on Why Short Fiction is Short on Interest

I don't like short stories. I have never made this a secret. There is the occasional writer like Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges or Gabriel Garcia Marquez who writes short stories that I like. But these writers are few and far between.

Workshop Fiction Wars 2: n+1 and the doomed short story

Is the short story dead? Is n+1 run by snobs living over-the-top, trustafarian life styles? Read on to find out.

Timothy McSweeney Against the World

I run hot and cold on McSweeney's, although they are one of the more interesting indy presses out there.

This morning I read FEEDBACK FROM JAMES JOYCE'S SUBMISSION OF ULYSSES TO HIS CREATIVE-WRITING WORKSHOP on McSweeney's Internet Tendency. It's funny and so today I'm running hot.

The question is, of course, one that any writer who has sat smiling through a writing workshop has asked herself: "Is this workshop really of any value? What would happen to the great works of English literature if they had been subjected to the opinions of these simpletons in my group?"

While I think Teddy Wayne goes a little bit easy on the Workshop Fiction tendency, there's still some biting satire. Highly recommended.

The Workshop Fiction Wars I

Okay, so I didn't make up the term "workshop fiction..."