"Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew."
The Gentleman in the Small-Clothes.
Excerpts from essay:"You'd think that by now, after two or three millennia of poems and plays and stories and, more recently, novels and movies, there would be no need to talk or even think about the value of imaginative writing. But, after having spent some forty years as a college teacher—starting with my first teaching job here at Roanoke College in the summer of 1961 when I was all of twenty-three years old—and having during those decades heard many of my colleagues from other disciplines (I won't say less imaginative disciplines, just other disciplines) reveal that they really have no idea how or why imaginative writing comes to be written or read or, especially, understood, I know that such a discussion is not only valuable but probably even necessary."
and..."Authors don't have the last word or even necessarily the best word about their own work, and they certainly don't have the absolutely final word; they are allowed only certain limited privileges in the reading of their own work when they are alive and fewer when they're dead."
more: "When confronted with my claim that a "real writer" doesn't know everything that's going on in his or her work, my frustrated colleagues cry, "How can that be?" They either refuse to believe me and remain sure that there must be a right and absolutely correct meaning to every piece of imaginative writing, or, gnashing their teeth, claim that I have just proven the silliness of what I have spent my life doing. How, they say, can we take seriously and learn anything from a piece of writing in which even the author doesn't know what's going on?"
From Hala Hoagland via Facebook:I liked this the best, "Anyone who has participated in a creative writing class with first-rate student writers (as I've been doing regularly for the last thirty-eight years) has often seen the look of shock and bafflement and wonderment on the face of a writer who hears another member of the class reveal the hidden wonders and complexities of his or her poem or story (wonders and complexities that our startled author had no idea were there). It happens all the time. The story or poem seems to have a life of its own, makes connections within and without itself that amaze its author, has depths that only reveal themselves to its author as its "real readers" begin to report in."
That's the gem, the exact quote even I was hoping someone would find and point out! Thanks Hala!