Had a story up yesterday, didn't do well. Frank's postmortem, reconstructed close to verbatim:
This isn't actually a storyit reads more like a highly intelligent and sensitive case worker's report of everything that happened to the character. There's no principle of selection to the information, so that it doesn't work as fiction. The writing is smart, but "smart" is not actually that important in fiction writing, and it carries its own dangers. What I've found is that the truly smart people I've knownand I mean astrally smartare too smart to write fiction. Their intellects are too analytical, too obsessed with control, so that they are unable to surrender to the text. I'm thinking of Renata Adler, for instancewho, if you believe the stories, was the smartest person ever to go through Bryn Mawr. The last time I talked to her, I asked if she was still writing fiction and she said she'd given up, that it was too hard.
Not like this is my great looming #1 artistic fear or anything.
So now it's eight in the morning and I'm back at the computer after six useless hours trying to sleep. My friends, who have never failed me, give the charitable interpretation that Frank is harder on those whom he believes to be strong writers. I appreciate the thought. Of course I'm embarrassed at my own fragility: I should be more resilient than this. But it feels as though the past two months have been nothing but a series of unexpected blows.