Friday, August 04, 2006

stephen dixon interview

at failbetter. actual interview here.

this is my favorite part:

"Maybe I should elaborate, though often my elaborations end up as complications. But here goes. To show the range of my methods, I'll give examples. in the low 90's in June, in New York City, I finished a novel and started another. I'd write a first draft of each chapter in one day, though some took two days. I did about 30 of them in a month and a half. The thirtieth, we'll say, wouldn't content itself as a short chapter and became a short novel, Abortions, which I wrote the first draft of and then the final one. I sent it to Henry Holt and Co., who'd published Interstate and The Stories of Stephen Dixon, and they took it. Then, because I can be perverse in my methodology in this way, I started writing the final draft of the 29 other first-draft chapters, we'll say, and called the novel 30. But I started writing the novel in the opposite chronological order I'd written the first drafts in. No. 29 became chapter one, "Shortcut." 28 became [chapter] two, "Popovers." You get the picture. Working backwards, I came to 15, or so, and that started growing too, like Abortions, and became another short novel, Evangeline. Since the character in all of these was named Gould, I decided to send Holt Evangeline, bridge the two books with the title Gould, and add a subtitle: "A Novel in Two Novels." Holt liked the idea and published the book. Meanwhile, I was working my way back till I came to the final chapter (first draft), which became the final final-draft chapter. But I wasn't finished yet. I then wrote the final draft of the second part of 30, finished it in final-draft form, and wrote the first draft of the second chapter in the second part of 30, which was going to be called—this second part—Ends. So you see that I used two different methods, if not more, in writing 30: lots of first drafts at first and then writing the final drafts all in a row; and with Ends, first and then final draft of each chapter before I went on to the second. 30 became an enormous novel and is as good a work as I've ever done."

3 comments:

Amelia Markson said...

I can't say as I've read ANYTHING by Stephen Dixon. But I can say that I now want to.

will said...

i've read most of "interstate". it is very good, if sad, etc... i'm looking to read some of his short fiction some time soon.

amber said...

I'm reading Rose Macauly. It's like somebody went ahead and combined Dorothy Parker and Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen. Fucking awesome. Millicent was right to love her.