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Segue 10: Fall 2011  ||  Jeannie Galeazzi


about the author


Jeannie Galeazzi’s work has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in forty-four publications including Fence, The Literary Review, Permafrost, Southern Humanities Review, Main Street Rag, Feathertale (Canada), Dotlit (Australia), Snorkel (New Zealand), and All Rights Reserved (Nova Scotia), and is forthcoming in Bryant Literary Review and Gold Dust (UK). “Fan Club” is for Judy Barr and Betty Houston, with much gratitude for their years of gracious encouragement.


about the work


Writing is pruning. And knowing when—at each step of the way (researching, mulling the research, plotting, outlining, composing, editing, editing the edits, editing the edited edits, editing the edited edits of the earlier edits and then editing those to the point of nausea before skulking into the silent read-through phase and then, in disgust and despair, slashing and splicing and editing again before rereading, red-penciling all the while, until the only thing left is to read the damned thing out loud)—when to say “When.”

From inspiration to finished product? “Fan Club” sprouted from the author’s city-gal love of skyscrapers and her neat-freak fixation with skyscraper windows and the huge task of keeping them clean. And what if those windows were kept clean by a character whose life was a mess, who desperately sought to change? That bud of an idea—along with the seedling notion of a foil character through whom to explore themes of limits and obligation and the anguish lurking beneath decorum—bloomed into a novel called Mephisto’s Bluff, one of a handful of novels the author has been trying (and failing) for years to get published. Finally, fed up, she shifted from gardening mode to chop-shop mode: chapters and scenes and characters and turns of phrase hacked apart and melted down and molded afresh and soldered together into several short stories and a scatter of poems that, so far, by luck, have speed-bumped into print. At which point, in each case, the pruning was forced to stop, the author forced to gasp out a “When.”

The hard part? It’s all hard. Unless one can summon the focus to slip into the Zone: then time flows, pages fill, and the “hard part” is putting that pen (or red pencil) down. But beware: the more sterling and brilliant and lush this Zone-forged prose may at first seem, the longer the cool-off this prose will require before any intelligent editing—any objective pruning—can begin.

Resolving challenges? Shake it up! Write the last paragraph first and use it for target practice as you sweat out the rest. If you’re an outliner, don’t outline; if you aren’t, do. Try longhand. Try dictation. Try reading something “bad.” Leave the work and step outdoors and open your senses and walk until you see or hear or smell or taste or touch something that reconnects you to your plot and characters—and then walk back to the work free-associating: you’ll arrive revved up with insights. Above all, cultivate your own method that is natural to YOU, that gets what-YOU-feel-is-worth-writing written. That done, the big challenge may well turn out to be restraint: the challenge of not showing the work until it’s ready, until it has been suitably pruned.

Craft? Charm versus thrust. Any writer is lucky to have any readers at all. Great care must be taken not to outstay our tenuous welcome in those readers’ minds. We don’t bore with blather; we don’t shock just to shock; we make a point. It’s all in the pruning.



Jeannie Galeazzi on the Web









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