Dispatches | April 16, 2007

In the current issue of The Writer magazine, Thomas E. Kennedy addresses “practical solutions for writing problems.” For a problem/solution example, he discusses his story, “The Great Master,” which first appeared in Vol. XII (1989), number 2, of The Missouri Review. The story, writes Kennedy, was to be about the main character quitting smoking when his son was born. It ended up being insipid and moralistic. The solution for Kennedy was to return to the initial impulse of the story — to write about the “power of appetite.” The writer “finds the story’s true voice, and lets the story write itself without intellectual interference.” In this case, the impulse led to a surreal tale: “A man who keeps on eating until his wife and children leave him, he loses his job, he begins living alone in his basement. Until he becomes the object of local gossip and speculation and, in time, a god-like figure, worshipped by people for miles around who come with offerings of food.”

Richard Sowienski