Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
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Twenty of America's bestselling authors share tricks, tips, and secrets of the successful writing life.
Anyone who's ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. So what makes writers stick with it? In Why We Write, twenty well-known authors candidly share what keeps them going and what they love most—and least—about their vocation.
Contributing authors include:
interview I ever gave years ago. I want to be the most widely read, most controversial, most influential writer of my time. Getting lost The thing I love most about the act of writing is that I disappear. I get lost in trying to make every word the right word, in trying to tell the story. When I’m writing I have total control. Nothing’s going on the page unless I put it there. It’s not going to stay there unless I want it to stay there. When you sit down at the machine, you create that world,
people reading worse books, but they’re still reading books. I read on my iPad now, and I buy more books than ever. If I like a book I also buy it in cloth or paperback because I want to support the bookstores. My readers would be shocked to know… …how long it takes me to write these books. I’ll look at my students’ first drafts, but if a friend says, “I’ve written eighty pages,” and asks me to read them, I’ll say, “How many times have you written them?” Because there’s usually about one and
from Vietnam, I moved back to Charleston. I spent a year working for the News & Courier, the South’s oldest daily newspaper. I was writing feature stories about the Spanish moss blight and chitlin’ festivals, interviewing Strom Thurmond and his third beauty queen wife. I started picking up guys down at the Battery, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Kind of appropriate, really, for the great-great-grandson of a Confederate general. My sexual awakening—make that unleashing—was
friends. I wasn’t intimidated by them—they were doing me a favor, telling me these stories. When I got older, in high school, I discovered that the American writer-ideal was Hemingway for a boy or Fitzgerald for a girl. An aspiring author of serious literature could be a he-man writer like Hemingway or a she-man writer like Fitzgerald. There were no female-writer role models. Imagine a girl sitting at her desk in ninth grade, scratching her head, saying, I can’t write The Sun Also Rises; I’m a
bad book takes some talent and work to put together. Everyone thinks they can write a novel. They know they can’t slam-dunk a basketball because they don’t have the height or the athleticism. But people think, “I’ve got a brain, I’ve got a laptop. How hard can it be?” Those who attempt it learn that it’s very hard to do. Lawyers are storytellers Some of the best fiction I ever came up with was as a lawyer. You know who wins in court? The client whose lawyer tells better stories than the