Actually I’ve done it recently. The story “Carried Away” was included in Best American Short Stories 1991. I read it again in the anthology, because I wanted to see what it was like and I found a paragraph that I thought was really soggy. It was a very important little paragraph, maybe two sentences. I just took a pen and rewrote it up in the margin of the anthology so that I’d have it there to refer to when I published the story in book form. I’ve often made revisions at that stage that turned out to be mistakes because I wasn’t really in the rhythm of the story anymore. I see a little bit of writing that doesn’t seem to be doing as much work as it should be doing, and right at the end I will sort of rev it up. But when I finally read the story again it seems a bit obtrusive. So I’m not too sure about this sort of thing. The answer may be that one should stop this behavior. There should be a point where you say, the way you would with a child, this isn’t mine anymore.That interview, well worth reading in full (if for no other reason than for such lines as "An editor who thought nothing happened in William Maxwell's stories, for example, would be of no use to me"), is in the second volume of The Paris Review Interviews, of which the fourth volume (featuring P. G. Wodehouse! And Haruki Murakami!) has just been published. Christmas lists, take note!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Notes to "Avoid naming it straight," or, Reading Henry James
* Munro gives that answer in response to a question about whether, like Proust, she ever revised something after it had already been published (and thus, in theory, finished). She goes on to confess that she has: