Private v. Public

This morning, after driving through a surprisingly thick snowstorm, I found myself in a tiny room in the radio studio of WDEV in Waterbury. Hester Fuller, the host, had kindly read my book and interviewed me for a bit, then Gary Miller (author of the fine collection Museum of the Americas) came in, too, with Joe Citro on the phone line.

We were literally knee-to-knee in a tiny room, talking about the intimacy of writing. Writing is that curious mixture of intense privacy – literally, the stuff of our own experiences – spun into shared stories. John Steinbeck’s East of Eden wound into my life when I was fifteen, lodging deeply in my blood cells, its influence surfacing in my own writing. Over and over, I have hammered myself against Steinbeck’s anvil that insists on seizing human choice despite the chaotic happenstance of human life. How will I understand my life? The lives of those I dearly love?

Driving home in the dark tonight, I realized my character, Fern, understood her life like this: finding an abandoned sweater in a library’s free box, she washed and then unravelled the yarn, discarding what was ruined beyond repair, saving what she could. Then she knitted, by trial and error, a sweater patterned with trees and mountains and Lady Moon, creating a work of beauty – and practicality.

Only after a writer lets literature shape her can she perhaps shape literature. In working-class France, when an apprentice got hurt, or when he got tired, the experienced workers said, “It is the trade entering his body.” The art must enter the body, too.

– Annie Dillard, The Writing Life


Burlington, Vermont, March 2016

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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2 Responses to Private v. Public

  1. Margie Ramsdell says:

    Your interview this morning was excellent! You were so beautifully sharing of your characters, your thoughts, the process……….so well done! And you have a fabulous radio voice!!

  2. Thank you so much, Margie! It was such a pleasure to be with Hester — funny and smart — and other fine writers!

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