Like its namesake, The Hickory Stump is a great place to sit and read.
Come here each season and take a break in the shade.
On June 25th we unveil our summer issue. In addition to the usual round of fiction by rising new writers, we have also managed to catch up to the widely lauded Giller Prize winner Elizabeth Hay, who will talk about her novels and work as a novelist in an exclusive interview with us.
You quoted V.S. Pritchett’s book about Turgenev, The Gentle Barbarian. “When in doubt, increase the difficulty.” Why is that?
I have to start with something that touches me deeply. I use various aspects of my life in fiction, always with the intent of getting beyond myself into the lives of others. I gave myself three challenges: writing only in the third person; inventing characters who were not like me; setting the story in a time and place I did not know directly. I think it was later that I read V. S. Pritchett’s advice: “When in doubt, increase the difficulty.” But it rang true. When you’re having trouble with your writing, the answer isn’t to make it easier for yourself. The answer is to rise to a bigger challenge, to take risks, to stretch your imagination. Again, the idea is to get beyond your small, limited self.
Find out more in June!
I like to write with a pen or pencil on paper. I have a rocking chair with wide arms in my second-floor study. I sit in the chair, place a piece of plywood across the arms and write on that flat surface. I got the idea from reading about Virginia Woolf, who worked the same way in the grubby back of the house where they printed the books for Hogarth Press. It gives me much more peace of mind to work this way than directly in front of a computer screen.