Monday, May 19, 2008

The Writer's City

Reading short stories, novels, poetry, and so forth is like walking into a city. If I, as a writer, have done my city well, you’ll find paths and directions through that city that I myself may not even have thought about. I will allow my books to be larger than I am. I tell my writing students over and over again, ‘Your books should be smarter than you. You should keep surprising yourself upon follow-up readings.’ For that very reason, the only thing I would ask when you enter any of the books that I have spoken of is, please, don’t come with predispositions. Don’t come thinking you know. Anybody who comes thinking that they know is going to close the book when they hit things of which they are ignorant, and that won’t work. Too many of us read books to try to find something to back up what we already believe. We’re unwilling to do the serious job of making our own paths, wrestling with, living with, walking with the author. If you come into an experience thinking you know, you will never know. You have to come with the risk of ignorance.

Quoted from Hope Grows Best in the Garden of Despair, an Interview with Walter Wangerin, Jr. printed in the book Indelible Ink

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