I wrote an article about the Albee Foundation. It’s in the new issue of Poets & Writers, leading off the magazine’s annual look at conferences and residencies.
I’m trying hard not to read it, following this piece of advice regarding writing when it’s finally in print, from the “Proofreading Checklists” appendix in the McGraw-Hill Proofreading Handbook:
It is the masochistic proofreader who reads again at this stage. Finding an error too late only adds to the anxiety of an already nerve-wracking occupation. When the proofreader sees the article or advertisement in final print, the page should be quickly turned. If there is an error, it will undoubtedly be caught and reported to you […]. Don’t go looking for trouble.
One of the Magnetic Poetry Kit poems I read last night at Happy Ending as my risk, which I transcribed from my refrigerator ten years ago.
cool red milk
a pound of finger honey
one heavey cry
a rust sausage
put them beneath
an incubating apparatus
easy as pants
Another quote that rattles around in my head all the time, from the Paris Review interview with James Thurber (which I first read in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, First Series, but which is now available as a PDF download as part of the magazine’s amazing DNA of Literature project, here):
I never quite know when I’m not writing. Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a party and says, “Dammit, Thurber, stop writing.” She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph. Or my daughter will look up from the dinner table and ask, “Is he sick?” “No,” my wife says, “he’s writing something.”
Both moments are sadly funny in a Walter Mitty way, but also depressing as hell when you think about the fact that Thurber, at 60, was almost completely blind:
I have to do it that way on account of my eyes. I still write occasionally—in the proper sense of the word—using black crayon on yellow paper and getting perhaps twenty words to the page. My usual method, though, is to spend the mornings turning over the text in my mind. Then in the afternoon, between two and five, I call in a secretary and dictate to her. I can do about two thousand words. It took me about ten years to learn.