Redux: Two Hundred Perfect Words Every Day



Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.

This week, we bring you more selections by some of the women featured in Women at Work Volume Two: Doris Lessing’s 1988 Art of Fiction interview, Jeanette Winterson’s short story “The Lives of Saints,” and May Sarton’s poem “Coming into Eighty.”

If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to read the entire archive? You’ll also get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door. 


Doris Lessing, The Art of Fiction No. 102
Issue no. 106 (Spring 1988)

When I was bringing up a child I taught myself to write in very short concentrated bursts. If I had a weekend, or a week, I’d do unbelievable amounts of work. Now those habits tend to be ingrained. In fact, I’d do much better if I could go more slowly. But it’s a habit. I’ve noticed that most women write like that, whereas Graham Greene, I understand, writes two hundred perfect words every day! So I’m told!



The Lives of Saints
By Jeanette Winterson
Issue no. 128 (Fall 1993)

That day we saw three Jews in full-length black coats and black hats standing on identical stools looking into the funnel of a pasta machine. One stepped down from his little stool and went to the front where the pasta was stretching out in orange strands. He took two strands and held them up high so that they dropped against his coat. He looked like he’d been decorated with medal ribbon. They bought the machine. The Italian boys in T-shirts carried it to the truck.



Coming into Eighty
By May Sarton
Issue no. 123 (Summer 1992)

Coming into eighty
I slow my ship down
For a safe landing.
It has been battered,
One sail torn, the rudder
Sometimes wobbly.
We are hardly a glorious sight.
It has been a long voyage
Through time, travail and triumph,
Eighty years
Of learning what to be
And how to become it …


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