By Gail Gilliland
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Extra resources for Being a Minor Writer
For this writer, some sort of poetics of being minor must be borne in mind. 2 The ars poetica continues to be a viable, lively genre to this day, with interviews and articles in which well-known writers explore the basic Horatian issues of subject matter, char- Page 3 acter, diction, genre, and other aspects of their art appearing regularly in periodicals that range from literary magazines or the Associated Writing Program's Chronicle to the Sunday book review section of the New York Times. " 3 Foucault tells us that the process for determining that the author has a name is based on the same techniques that Saint Jerome, who is widely acknowledged as the individual most responsible for choosing the canon of the modern Christian Bible, employed when he was determining the holiness of script.
Imaginative actseven purely mental combinations, like the thought that a certain cloud resembles a top hatcarry real weight in the universe. A child who makes a pun, or a shepherd who looks at a batch of stars and thinks, "That part is a throne and that part is a swan," is doing something which counts in the universe's reckoning of order and decaywhich counts just as those mighty explosions and strippings of electrons do inside those selfsame stars. 33 Here, economic definitions of "weight" and "counts" are removed entirely from any universal scheme of artistic accountability.
He suggests that the truly minor piece rejects categorization altogether. Renza systematically shows how each attempt to categorize Sarah Orne Jewett's short story "A White Heron" as "regional" or as "pastoral" fails, and he Page 13 indicates that this very resistance to categorization is what finally makes the work minora judgment that must remain intrinsically nonjudgmental in itself. In his discussion of Jewett's story, Renza implies the use of various "strategies" on the part of this New England writer to remain minor, as though she were aware in her writing of making a conscious choice.
Being a Minor Writer by Gail Gilliland