The Mark Program



Amy Hempel is an American short story writer, journalist, and teaches creative writing at Bennington College and Harvard University. Here is an insightful interview addressing poignant questions on every writer's mind.

Truth in Fiction

I've discovered that it's often difficult for me to describe a work-in-progress in any way that satisfies me.

I've heard that it takes an hour to write an hour-long speech, two hours to write a two-hour speech, and three hours to write a ten-minute speech. One has to really know what one wants to say in order to make it concise.

BOOKMARK THIS: Symbolism Surveys From Famous Writers

From The Paris Review:

In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?

WRITERS' REEL: David Foster Wallace on Ambition

"If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything." - David Foster Wallace

Here's an interview with David Foster Wallace by Leonard Lopate recorded on March 4, 1996. In it, Wallace discusses perfectionism, receiving (and neglecting) constructive lessons, and ambition.

MOMENTUM: Writing Flow Exercises

This has been a busy year. Life is like that: you can’t schedule the unforeseeable. Bathrooms will flood, new bosses will pop up, people will die, and loved ones will need help.

BOOKMARK THIS: Putting Rejection Into Perspective

It's easy to feel delegitimized after your manuscript gets declined by a publisher. There are, however, innumerable factors that go in to a publisher's decision on what to print and what to deny. To put it into perspective, here's a list of famous titles, compiled from Michael Larsen's book Literary Agents, that went on to exceed the foresight of a publishing house's expectations.