”At the first class Lish established just how much he would demand of his students. He started at least one term at Columbia by asking them to tell their most shameful secret, ‘the ineffable, the despicable, the thing you will never live down,’ as Hempel wrote in Vanity Fair. One student admitted to having run someone over; another may have for the first time come out of the closet. When the exercise was over, Lish smiled. ‘Did I say,’ he asked, ‘that this secret doesn’t have to be true?’
Hempel said that this exercise set the stakes of the workshop: students would have to give everything they had to even attempt to please him. It also set the terms: Lish wanted students to approach him from a position of complete vulnerability. The effort to satisfy Lish would be about more than literature—it would be personal. Pleasing him would not only affirm their worth as writers but put them back on tolerable footing with him as human beings.”
Citerat ur ”Seduce the Whole World: Gordon Lish’s Workshop” av Carla Blumenkranz, redaktör på n+1. Citatet är hämtat ur New Yorker men essän finns även publicerad i helt nyutkomna antologin MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction, red. Chad Harbach.