Thanks to a heads up in the latest issue of The Writer magazine, I've discovered a fascinating spot to get to know my favorite authors. Until recently, interviews posted by The Paris Review could be accessed only by subscribers.
Now, readers can peruse this amazing collection of interviews, without spending a penny. The interviews are grouped by decades, going all the way back to the 1950s.
Reading through several interviews reinforces the fact that no two writers use the same process. Some regret their MFAs. Some felt their MFA was invaluable. Through varying levels of confidence, successes, and failures, those of us in the learning stage comprehend a valuable lesson.
An individual's process is just that. Individual.
What works for one person won't necessarily work for you, but it's interesting to try on some of the habits of history's amazing writers. Who knows which quirks may tickle your muse?
Here are a few quotes from some of the interviews I enjoyed reading:
Truman Capote on devices to improve a writer's technique:
Work is the only device I know of. Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.
John Updike on his writing habits:
I write every weekday morning. I try to vary what I am doing, and my verse, or poetry, is a help here. Embarked on a long project, I try to stay with it even on dull days. For every novel, however, that I have published, there has been one unfinished or scrapped.
John Steinbeck on criticism:
Writing to me is a deeply personal, even a secret function and when the product I turned loose it is cut off from me and I have no sense of its being mine. Consequently criticism doesn’t mean anything to me. As a disciplinary matter, it is too late.
Toni Morrison on helpful editors:
The good ones make all the difference. It is like a priest or a psychiatrist; if you get the wrong one, then you are better off alone. But there are editors so rare and so important that they are worth searching for, and you always know when you have one.
Steep a fresh cup of tea and sit down with one of your favorite icons. Which will you choose first?