On the art of Writing


Q: Who motivates me to write?

A: I motivate myself. No one can do it for you. If you need to be motivated by external forces then you are not a writer. Writing, in other words, is not a collaborative endeavor. The writer writes alone. You have to want to do it. You have got to sit down and write.

Q: How often do I write?

A: If you mean to sit down and write, I write five days out of the week, from 9 to 11 P.M.. Sometimes I will go later. And I never try to say how many pages I'm going to write a day. I may write two or three or I may write ten pages. It depends. In other words, if I'm really going that night, why stop at a preconceived page number? If I'm struggling I will quit at eleven and go to bed to think. Now, if you are asking me how often I write without sitting down at the computer then I will have to say that I am writing most of the day. For some reason, I write in my head more on Saturday morning, in bed, than at any other time.

Q: Do you keep notes?

A: Yes. Always. I realized early on that even a great idea can be lost if not written down. I carry a wallet full of notes. Every once in a while I empty it out and go back and add the thoughts to what I'm writing or I make a note to use the information later on. I can show you a one sentence note that was the beginning for HARDSCRUB.

Q: Is there a difference in writing, say, novels and articles?

A: Good writing is an art, regardless. Writing in general--newspaper, magazine, etc--is usually a craft that can be learned. Writing fiction, I believe, can be taught up to a point. I do believe that fiction writers, the ones who write as an art form, are born. There is something in the mind, a whirling mind, that does not seem to sit still until the information is gleaned and put down on paper. Your mind operates under a tremendous imagery. It's hard to explain, really. Your mind never rests.

Q: Is writing difficult?

A: I think that the older I get the more difficult it becomes.

Q: How do you feel when you write?

A: I am always in and out of a state of self-hypnosis, or something equivalent to self-hypnosis. I don't know how to explain it but when I am writing I am gone from this world. I am with the characters and they take me along. The characters tell the story. It is quite a high to do this. In most cases, when I open a novel of mine and read it, I do not remember having written it.

Q: Do you always enjoy writing?

A: No. Some days I wish that I didn't have to write. But I know from experience that I must sit down because I don't know what is going to come out of my mind that night. I have written up to fifteen pages in one sitting on the nights when I didn't think I wanted to write.

Q: Do you rewrite?

A: Writing is the art of rewriting. No one gets it right the first time. I rewrite constantly. I have taken books away from the publisher in order to rewrite them.

Q: How do you know what to write next?

A: I know because these things are set up in line in my brain. I have been thinking of a novel for years before I sit down to write it.

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