Summer 2014 • Vol. XXXVI No. 3 The Kenyon Review Credos |

On Process

I don't know that I really have a credo, unless it's "Trust the process." For me, the process is to take some tiny scrap of text, as unladen with "meaning" or "theme" or "intention" as possible, and see what it wants me to do. The way I prompt it to tell me what to do is to revise it, and the means by which I revise it is, more or less, "to ear." I look at it, read it internally—and see how I feel about it. Often a slight rearrangement (a cut, a reordering, the insertion of a new phrase) will suggest itself instantaneously. Other times, a next sentence or small narrative beat will appear ("Oh, she should follow him into the store.") And I do mean "appear"—ideally this next bit of text alteration or forward movement does not come willed, exactly—it arrives on its own, instantaneously, unstoppable. This is where the mystery comes in—from where do those strong impulses-to-improve come? How can we improve our ability to produce them? Can we improve that ability? This is also whe

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