kottke.org posts about The Vaster Wilds

“How Lauren Groff, One of ‘Our Finest Living Writers,’ Does Her Work.”

I am currently reading1 Lauren Groff’s The Vaster Wilds, so I was interested to read about her writing process, which includes:

When Groff starts something new, she writes it out longhand in large spiral notebooks. After she completes a first draft, she puts it in a bankers box โ€” and never reads it again. Then she’ll start the book over, still in longhand, working from memory. The idea is that this way, only the best, most vital bits survive.

“It’s not even the words on the page that accumulate, because I never look at them again, really, but the ideas and the characters start to take on gravity and density,” she said.

“Nothing matters except for these lightning bolts that I’ve discovered,” she continued, “the images that are happening, the sounds that are happening, that feel alive. Those are the only things that really matter from draft to draft.”

And also this:

In the afternoon, Groff deals with the business of being an author, responding to emails, doing publicity, writing blurbs. And she reads. A lot. In just the past few days, she said, she finished “Living and Dying With Marcel Proust,” completed a reread of “Moby Dick,” and started a graphic novel called “Roaming.” She estimates she reads about 300 books a year.

Groff will drop quotes into casual conversation, citing, say, Frank Lloyd Wright’s take on form and function, but she manages to do this in an entirely unaffected way, just tossing out an interesting nugget for consideration. Her editor, McGrath, said that Groff reread all of Shakespeare so she could write a version of “The Vaster Wilds” in iambic pentameter “just for fun,” as a way for her to master Elizabethan rhythms.

All of Shakespeare, just for fun. Yep.

  1. Or at least, trying to read. I’ve been super busy with work and at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is read more. But I will get back to it!


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