Friday, September 09, 2016

Robert Olen Bulter Writes Word by Word before My Eyes

I'm watching a Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer as he creates a short story, beginning to end. I'm only up to Episode 2 in this 17-part video series by Robert Olen Butler. Butler is the type who re-reads and revises word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and so on, as he goes along. (Not a fast / rough draft and then later revision.) He describes fiction as coming from the dream state, not the conscious mind. Says a writer must enter a "zone" or state of meditation that accesses the writer's "dream center." However, he clearly allows his critical / analytical mind significant participation in the creation of the text. It's a contradiction which is clearly working for him. Maybe it works for Butler because he is primarily conjuring the voice of the narrator and imaginatively experiencing the sensory details of what the character is experiencing like a "method actor." The secondary issue is surface text--the right words in the right order.