Friday, October 30, 2015

On Oates...

I heard Jim Braude interviewing Joyce Carol Oates recently, asking her if she taught her own work -- and, to be clear, I think he meant process. 

She was a little aghast. No, never, was the answer. 

He followed up, asking if students walked up to her and asked her questions about her own work; they are, after all, taking a class with Oates. 

She said something like, "My students aren't that naive." 

Of course, I'd never suggest a writer teach their own work, but I have access to my brain -- my process -- and I do try to crack my pinata-head open, as figuratively as possible, to show them how the candy is arranged. When in doubt, I do this. When starting out, I try this. When lost, I do this. When stumbling on point of view, I try this. I talk about other writers' processes too -- and other artists and inventors and composers. 

But I agreed with Braude and if I were in an Oates class, I'd be so naive -- or so bold -- and I'd ask and I'd probably keep asking.