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Published:

December 1, 2014
 

Conversation on Craft


On November 5, the second installment of Adelphi’s Literary Encounters series featured two literary professionals showcasing their talents, perspectives and approaches to their work. Orange Prize for Fiction winner Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife, and Alexi Zentner, author of Touch and The Lobster Kings, provided key insight into the craft and discussed their experiences with novelist Sharon Guskin. Current Adelphi students participating in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program were in attendance.

The two-hour program featured a short reading by each author, a moderated discussion and a question and answer session between author and student. During the discussion, Zentner touched on the importance of an M.F.A. program.

An M.F.A. program is all about learning the craft and understanding what writing works, and what doesn’t. Zentner gave an example of one tool that beginning literary writers can consider.

Obreht noted that as writers continue to work, they’re constantly evolving and becoming better at their craft, but they can sometimes fret about each piece sounding similar to the last. She explained this phenomenon in the video below.

To become a better writer one must commit wholly to the craft. Zentner explained what that means, including the careful choosing of what communities to belong to.

Eventually, beginning writers will become seasoned writers. Zentner explained there’s a point when writing stops being an exercise in craft and becomes more of an art.

How does a writer know, then, when a project is done?

Writing is often described as a brutal process. So, why write? Each author explained their views on writing, and why they chose, and choose, to share their work. Obreht noted that writing is a way for her to work out inner struggles in a rewarding way.

Zentner explained the power writing and reading has on the human mind. Sometimes, he said, writing can even make a person feel less alone.

 

 
 
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