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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The world of writing according to Frederic Tuten

    It’s been said of writer Frederic Tuten that he’s more European in his sensibilities than American.

    Though he grew up in the Bronx, Tuten has found himself at various points in life on the European continent while developing an avant-garde literary style that is just now getting a resurgence in popularity.

    Aurelie Sheehan, director of the creative writing program and associate professor of fiction, was a former student of Tuten.

    It was his passion as a craftsman deeply committed to his work that inspired Sheehan greatly while in her college career at City College in New York.

    Now, with Tuten’s works getting more notice, Sheehan has invited him for a speaking engagement tonight for the Prose Series sponsored by the College of Humanities and the department of English. At 8 p.m. Tuten will speak about his work and life in the Modern Languages Auditorium. Here’s a taste of what this teacher has to say.

    Wildcat (W): Have you always had writing in mind as a career?
    Tuten (T): I never thought of writing as a career, in the sense that one thinks of being an engineer or a doctor, say. I thought and think of writing as an art, for which there is little surety of financial compensation or of any rewards other than the joy of the work and the challenge to perfect one’s craft and one’s vision of beauty.

    W: What is the most difficult thing/aspect of writing for you?
    T: Getting to my desk. Staying at my desk. Remembering why I’m there.

    W: Someone once told me that as a writer you need two jobs because devoting yourself to writing might just drive you crazy. Do you agree with this?
    T: I never heard that. I mean I never heard of anyone willingly wanting to have a job other than that of writing, unless it was teaching a class you love once in a while or running an insurance company. All the time left over from writing should be spent living, in the manner you consider living, even if that means just reading all day or playing chess or trying to fall in love.

    W: You teach writing at the City College in New York. What advice would you give to aspiring writers here at the UA?
    T: My advice: Read all the time and copy out by hand sentences you admire or passages that haunt you. Do that every day until you have used up all the sentences and passages you love and then start writing sentences of your own that you love.

    W: Your former student, Aurelie Sheehan, remembers from her classes with you that you would always say that as a writer, you have to be above the marketplace and concerns of that nature. What exactly do you mean by that?
    T: You are never more free than when you are young and there is no one looking over your shoulder; no editor, no publisher, no one. That freedom is the medium through which you earn your own voice, your own being as a writer, one like no other writer, unless your idea is to be like every other writer, in which case I would you suggest you get an MBA and learn how to make money. To write to please an idea of a marketplace is to die on the vine. You will never know the marketplace because it changes with the tides of fashion. But a writer or an artist with integrity creates the fashion, however limited in range that may be, and does not dog it in reckless hopes of being current.

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