Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Francine Prose: A Writer’s Perspective

The reading by Francine Prose was very beneficial for an aspiring writer like myself. She read her own short story and provided enlightening comments. Her relaxed demeanor struck me as she discussed the arduous task of writing a novel. I was also interested in the calm demeanor with which she read her work.  I tried to take cues from her poise as she spoke her own short story aloud because she seamlessly told the story and made me feel as though I was reading the work instead of simply listening to it. It seems to me that being able to do that is harder than it looks because you have to use your voice to transport the reader, rather than trusting the written text to do it for you. She allowed me to envision the words in my head, which speaks to her proficiency as an author because the words do not need to be seen to have their power and meaning conveyed to you. Her speech was fluid and had a predictable rhythm to it, which helped keep the idea that her voice was not the main point to focus on, rather the point was to have the words speak for themselves.

            I admired the way she conducted the informal interview after the reading and I was also surprised by some of her answers. One question posed to her dealt with whether or not she knew what the endings would be before she wrote the work. Her answer shocked me, as she replied that she did not think about it beforehand and let the story go where it would. I find this interesting because I always ike to know where anything that I am writing will end up. I realize that every writer has there own methods but I wonder if there is not some merit to the idea that the story does not have to be planned out and that the overall construction can just take its own course. This is something that I will try and implement in my own writing because when she said this she made it sound as though this made writing more fun. It may go against my natural inclination as an aspiring writer but it may be beneficial to not know where every story is going. I also found it interesting when she said that some stories and ideas remain unfinished. This is something else that I wish to use in my writing because I have never left a story unfinished and always try to make the best out of whatever material that I am working with. After listening to Francine Prose however, I have come to the realization that if the story is not working than it should scrubbed until a better way of approaching it becomes apparent. I also now understand that some stories cannot be finished and that it is important to accept this and realize that it is not giving up but understanding the concept is not working.

I feel that I have gleaned much from the reading with Francine Prose. I learned a lot abou how to conduct oneself as a writer and I hope that I may continue to grow as one. Authors like Francine Prose have much to teach young writers and I found her musings on writing to be very helpful, and I appreciated the candor and wit with which she delivered them.