Small and Complicated Things

Some of the greatest moments in literature are about very small and complicated things. In her Paris Review-interview, author Paula Fox recalls teaching a fiction writing class at the University of Pennsylvania. One of her favorite writing assignments was: “How do you tie your shoelaces?” Fox argued that this assignment would be proof of her student’s ability to write about complicated things. All reading and writing begins with the art of paying attention: “When people talk listen completely,” Hemingway advised,“Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there…” In this workshop, we will ponder things small and complicated (i.e. a toothache, a kiss, a warbler, a dog’s paw), how they may appear in fiction and how to write about them ourselves.

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