elizabeth gaffney

So much about having a manuscript accepted is just out of your hands: the blood sugar level of a reader, the slant of light across a page, some personal event in an editor’s life that connects them profoundly with something you’ve written on page three. Who knows? There’s nothing you can do but write the best book you can.
—  Lorrie Moore, in an interview with Elizabeth Gaffney at The Paris Review


What about grad school? Is it possible that being a paralegal is better training for a writer than an M.F.A. program?


Anything, I’m sure, is possible. I’ve actually known many writers who were paralegals. Probably it is simply because working as a paralegal pays Manhattan rents just a tiny bit better than entry-level publishing jobs—although maybe it doesn’t pay them at all anymore. This was in the 1970s. I’m not sure I believe in “training” to be a writer that is external like that anyway. I don’t think writers “train” the way athletes do. It is not performative and helped by little exercises; one’s mind is probably not beneficially roughened or honed by deadening work. Writing is more a habit, but a soulful one like smoking, which compulsively connects the head to the hand; from there one tries to make art of it. How does one pick up such a habit? By hanging around the kids with the cigarettes, of course. And a love of books and music—every writer must have that.


Lorrie Moore, The Art of Fiction No. 167, The Paris Review, Interviewed by Elizabeth Gaffney



Losses that turn up in dreams by Elizabeth Gaffney