“…the writer is a duelist who never fights at the stated hour, who gathers up an insult, like another curious object, a collector’s item, spreads it out on his desk later, and then engages in a duel with it verbally. Some people call it weakness. I call it postponement. What is a weakness in the man becomes a quality in the writer. For he preserves, collects what will explode later in his work.” — Anais Nin (Diaries)
The hardest part of writing a book is the breadth of it. I’m not doing as they say. Not “pacing” myself. I want to have good lungs. I want to huff it out to the end. Good scene after good scene. Hundreds of shorter stories within the entirety. And those stories have to collide. I dont want the reader to take a breath. I want them to huff along with me to the end.
Do you have any advice for younger writers?
Just start at page one and write like a son of a bitch. Be totally familiar with the entirety of the Western literary tradition, and if you have any extra time, throw in the Eastern. Because how can you write well unless you know what passes for the best in the last three or four hundred years? And don’t neglect music. I suspect that music can contribute to it as much as anything else. Tend to keep distant from religious, political, and social obligations. And I would think that you shouldn’t give up until it’s plainly and totally impossible. Like the Dostoyevskian image—when you see the wall you’re suppose to put your hands at your sides and run your head into it over and over again. And finally I would warn them that democracy doesn’t apply to the arts. Such a small percentage of people get everything and all the rest get virtually nothing.
– From Paris Review
Don’t think that I am shook at all by any adverse comment that comes out on my work, whether in Esquire or anywhere else. Short of the guy’s taking a forty-five and blowing my brains out to prevent me from writing, there’s nobody that can do anything to me at all. My work is what it is, and the world can make its peace with it, kick it out, shit on it, or do whatever the world figures it should do. But as for my feelings, don’t worry.