Alice Munro wrote an article in 1982 describing how she writes a short story and how she reads a story written by another person.
In a 1982 interview with Peter Gzowski, Alice Munro refers to the article. She notes that when reading a short story by another writer, she doesn’t go in to find out what happens. The content – what the story is about – is not what interests her. Instead she goes into the story in order to find herself in a certain climate.
In the 1982 article, Alice Munro remarks that she can start reading a story from anywhere – “from beginning to end, from end to beginning, from any point in between in either direction.”
She doesn’t follow the story as if it were a road taking her somewhere. It’s more like being in a house. “Everybody knows what a house does, how it encloses space and makes connections between one enclosed space and another and presents what is outside in a new way.”
A book by Alice Munro, The View from Castle Rock, has particularly captured my imagination. It’s a book that occupies the borderland between fact and fiction. It’s a memoir and it’s fiction.
Update (April 22, 2012): The 1982 article by Alice Munro, “How I write short stories,” appears in The art of the short story (2006).
Update (Nov. 21, 2012): Here’s a Nov. 20, 2012 New Yorker interview with Alice Munro.