AMY BLOOM (AWAY, Random House 2007) read her short story, Compassion and Mercy, at a Celebration of Writing seminar in Wesleyan University’s Memorial Chapel on Saturday afternoon while 200 yards away on Andrus Field, her alma mater’s football team hosted Williams College. The significant audience that turned out to hear her revealed two things: there is always a choice to be made at Wesleyan between mind and body, and Bloom is a writer with the kind of forceful presence that can compete with anything. And she competed well, eliciting several laughs throughout her extended remarks. Her reading also produced the operative metaphor for one’s creative muse for the rest of the seminar: a raccoon.
On short story vs. novel writing
If I write forty pages and I’m not done… it’s going to be a novel.
I tend to think extensively about a story before I work on it. I think about the characters. Eventually I ask, “who dies?” Because in fiction you have to have things that are compelling. Going to the grocery store is not compelling. People dying is. People going off to war is.
For Bloom, it’s always about the character’s story, finding ways to show who they are by how they react to events.
By the time you are an adult, events don’t make you who you are; they show who you are.
On writing for television
First, no one has to write for television. It’s not like they kidnap your children and hold them for ransom. They pay you.
And, if you have other things that you do, and you have the time and space in your life, then collaborating with very, very smart visual artists is positive and rewarding. And they pay you.
It’s different for me. I’m an exotic. I’m older, I’m from the East, and I’m a novelist.
It’s funny. I always go out to Los Angeles and the second sentence out of my mouth is, ‘That’s okay. I’ll go back to Connecticut.’ It’s best [for a writer] if you can walk away.