In this book I provide new ways of exploring a very old topic—the activities of writing and what authors say about them. Drawing on published interviews with writers, I explore the discursive and cultural practices that shape writing as both an individual activity and a collective practice. As narrative acts performed in public, interviews with published authors constitute critical evidence about the cultures of writing that shape us and that we help shape. In the pages that follow, I argue that serious and sustained analysis of figurative language about composing by authors in literary interviews enables us to understand writing as work, as a shared social practice, as an activity with both critical and creative dimensions. Analysis and interpretation of authors’ interviews shifts focus from the idealized humanist subject often enshrined in discourses about creation and criticism since the Enlightenment to the struggles of actual human individuals attempting to forge new subjectivities, subject positions, social identities, and social relations. Interviews allow us to see that something new happens through conversation, that interviews help writers and readers recognize and realize the trans-individual dimensions of activities conducted in solitude.
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