On learning

by look i have opinions

Patrick Dacey: I remember you saying once that your writing became worse while you were getting your MFA at Syracuse.

George Saunders: Well, worse and better. Short-term, my stories got worse. I was so intimidated and impressed by my teachers and peers that I sort of clammed up and got (shudder) “serious.” That is, having been admitted on the basis of a kind of wildish story, I reverted to a kind of realism at which I’m not very good. So if you looked at the work I did while I was in the program, it was pretty flat. But I think all that time I was learning some deeper things about structure so that, when I finally got my voice back, I knew what to do with it. Before that, I could be sort of funny/wild but only for a page at a time.

an interview in BOMB Magazine