I had the pleasure of hearing Zadie Smith read her latest story, “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets” at Boston College last week. The next morning, Smith taught my advanced fiction writing workshop, something she said was out of the ordinary for her. As a teacher at NYU, Smith usually does not like to teach workshops. She said that she finds that the format of the class can leaving students feeling overly exposed, and sees the editing process as something that is best done between one writer and one editor. But she stepped in and took over our class and added so much wisdom and insight to our group. Smith is a relentless editor and has a fabulously critical eye, to see her editing process on a line by line basis for the three students who were up in workshop was so enlightening to me, especially since she is a writer that I greatly admire.
Some of my favorite take away quotes from the class she taught are below – enjoy!
“In the end, the bottom line is always going to be you and the pages”
“Don’t be apologetic”
“Have faith in the real”
“Dig out the stuff that is effective and stylish, the rest is just typing”
“English offers you a lot of chances to make a fool of yourself”