The best time to tell your story is when you have to tell your story. When it’s not really a choice.
But then, when you get that first, messy, complicated version down, you have to read it over and be very tough on yourself and ask, ‘Well what’s the story here?’ If you’re lucky enough to have someone you trust looking over your shoulder, he or she can help you if [you] lack perspective on your own story.
The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It’s not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating, discovering. The journey is your narrative. Keep to it and there will be a tale told.
I start out to write five days a week, and then it runs to six days and finally seven. Then, eventually, that wave of weariness overwhelms me and I don’t know what’s the matter. That is, I know but I won’t admit it. I’m just tired from writing.
As you get older, writing becomes harder. By that I mean you see so many more potentialities. Things like transition used to trouble me. But not any more. When I say it’s harder, I’m not talking about facility. You learn all the so-called tricks, but then you don’t want to use them.
Well, as a short-story writer, I don’t think there are any weaknesses to the genre itself. I guess I would say that the difficulty of the form is that one must create an entire world in five to 30 pages, as opposed to 300. There is very little room for fat – you must be economical. And you must begin as close to the end as you possibly can.
[A submission is interesting] when I can tell the writer has paid attention to every aspect of the work. Too many writers will, for instance, get so wrapped up in a plot idea that they forget to flesh out the characters, or they’ll explore a really interesting theme but leave typos and clichéd language all over the place.
I know that books seem like the ultimate thing that’s made by one person, but that’s not true… Every reading of a book is a collaboration between the reader and the writer who are making the story up together.