George Saunders on story
sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton uncertain date: 2011?
Here, from The Atlantic, is George Saunders talking about how to write a good story. I love George Saunders’ heart. Sometimes, the Semplica-Girl Diaries, a story of his that IV-dripped into me, swirls in my brain.
After listening to this video, now I will hear this:
“…what you try and do with the person you love. You come back to them again and again and try to intuit their real expansiveness and you try to keep them close to you and give them the benefit of the doubt.” I have never heard this expressed quite this way before and I hope George Saunders wouldn’t mind if I say that this is why women stay with battering spouses.
This, indeed, is why I stayed with her. I continued to try to intuit her real expansiveness. It was this expansiveness under her crabbed expression of rage that bound, fascinated, compelled and tugged me closer.
It’s discontent and generosity that builds story. May I always remember this.
Here’s another interview from Triquarterly:
“We just got our submissions for our grad program [at Syracuse] and we got 600 this year for 6 spots. And I read 165 of those. And it’s so interesting. Everybody has a beautiful life. And everybody has an intense childhood. And everybody has, I think, some ability to be moved by literature. But then you see 165 people stepping forward to try to make that magic on their own, and it’s not a given. You can be a really smart, really well read, really well intentioned person, but somehow the thing you’re writing doesn’t come alive. Every year we do this, I’m kind of stunned by how many people are writing and also how well, and also how few of those people really get into the zone of speaking to me or speaking to another human being at the heart level. It’s kind of a mysterious thing. It’s kind of terrifying.”