Deborah Eisenberg

Literary Birthday – 20 November – Deborah Eisenberg

Happy Birthday, Deborah Eisenberg, born 20 November 1945.


  1. Whatever bunch of words the writer transmits requires a person, a consciousness on the other end, to reassemble it.
  2. When you start writing, your incredulity at the childish, incompetent, graceless thing you’ve done is shattering. One of the advantages of having experience as a writer – and there aren’t many, in face I can’t think of any other – is that you know you can make the horrible thing better, then you can make it better again, then you can make it better again. And you may not be able to make it good, but at least it’s not going to be what you’re looking at now.
  3. I think of fiction as a kind of inquiry into what it is to be a human and what it is to be a human now. And my constant task, in my life as well as my writing, is to try to discard layers of obfuscation. If I start out with a character who is somewhat unencumbered by the received, I can start farther along.
  4. Most of the process of writing for me is discarding things. I think, Just get rid of this, just tear it to the ground and start with something more fundamental, vital, and unformulated. Really try to see what’s in front of you. I spend most of my time trying to tear away banalities.
  5. I always thought of writing as holy. I still do. It’s not something to be approached casually.
  6. I never know whether something is going to work until the last word of the last line of the last draft. Well, to be accurate, it’s not the last draft. It’s what I think is the last draft.
  7. You write something and there’s no reality to it. You can’t inject it with any kind of reality. You have to be patient and keep going, and then, one day, you can feel something signalling to you from the innermost recesses. Like a little person trapped under the rubble of an earthquake.
  8. Nothing is more fortifying than learning that you have a real reader, a reader who truly responds both accurately and actively. It gives you courage, and you feel, I can crawl out on the branch a little further. It’s going to hold.

Deborah Eisenberg is an American short-story writer, actress and teacher. She writes for The New Yorker, The Yale Review, Vanity Fair, and Tin House. She has won the Rea Award for the Short Story, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and three O. Henry Awards. She is a professor of writing at Columbia University. Her five collections of stories are: Transactions in a Foreign Currency, Under the 82nd Airborne, All Around Atlantis, Twilight of the Superheroes, and Your Duck Is My Duck.

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Source for image

File:Deborah Eisenberg (4098456091).jpg: Tulane Public Relationsderivative work: Innisfree987, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 19th November 2020