MFA in Creative Writing - Nalini Jones
When I was a little girl, my mother urged me to take piano lessons. I did plunk away for a year or two, but when I was eight I had a moment of clarity as I stood in the wings of one of the festivals where my father worked. I was listening to Count Basie and realized at once that I could never play as well as he did. That was the end of my piano career!
Luckily, reading good fiction has the opposite effect. My favorite books dazzle me by what they make possible: connections I have never imagined, journeys I have never taken, or simply the familiar made new again. A writer's first best teacher is reading, particularly when one reads with an eye to craft. I find myself returning to books again and again, paging through to see how Austen shaped her narratives so delicately, or how Marquez handled a riotous party scene.
I believe the best writing begins with questions and ends with revision. It is not an expression of what we already know but a kind of spirited discovery. As a teacher, I enjoy the chance to engage in those kind of discoveries with my students, and to examine the tools of our craft: character, setting, plot, dialogue, description, point of view, and the energy and movement that bring fiction to life - something Count Basie might call swing.
Read the transcript of her chat