April 23, 1942|
Meridian, Mississippi, United States
|Died||March 1, 2010
Oxford, Mississippi, United States
|Occupation||Short story writer, novelist, professor|
|Genre||Short story, novel|
Honestly, I envy painters, who can have a masterpiece in one morning. Or musicians, who can write something in 30 minutes and arrange it in an hour, sometimes. 'Cause with this, with writing, you can occasionally feel like a caveman, like you've been working with pitch and tar on this brush.
I lost my second marriage because of drinking, and I loved the woman very much. But I thought I needed booze to write. I'm glad I was disabused.
I grew up when people seemed actually to be hurting themselves for their art. Of course, some of it was phony.
When you're not involved, other people's unhappiness seems to be about the funniest damn thing on earth because you think you can solve it, that you are God, that you are above this, and that their unhappiness is just such useless toil and agony. If it's you, it ceases to be a comedy.
I wanted very much to be Miles Davis when I was a boy, but without the practice. It just looked like an endless road.
Some writers are curiously unmusical. I don't get it. I don't get them. For me, music is essential. I always have music on when I'm doing well. Writing and music are two different mediums, but musical phrases can give you sentences that you didn't think you ever had.
I had absolute freedom to create things on my own and in silence. No rush, the artificial rush by media. Certainly no rush to grow up. We had plenty of boyhood, plenty of girlhood.
Randomness I love. And I still love just a holler right in the middle of an ongoing narrative. Pain or joy, ecstasy.
I'll tell you why I like writing: it's just jumping into a pool. I get myself into a kind of trance. I engage the world, but it's also wonderful to just escape. I try to find the purities out of the confusion. It's pretty old-fashioned, but it's fun.
Most novels I come across have all the excitement of a long trip on a bus with a sensitive glee club. Yammer and chat.
I don't write under the ghost of Faulkner. I live in the same town and find his life and work inspiring, but that's it. I have a motorcycle and tool along the country lanes. I travel at my own speed.
Voice comes to you through a spell, a trance. The best voices are not you… they're a little away from you.
A writer's job is to destroy and then to build the thing back up again by a chosen means.
I was always kind of florid. And full of rhetoric. That was my flaw. My whole time writing, I've had to work against that because it can be a wrecking posture.
I don't go around thinking about regret; regret doesn't consume me as a person… I'm not certain about whether any writer, any artist, any musician, can write without regret, so I don't think perhaps it's even particularly Southern.
I wouldn't be happy had I only been a teacher, if all I had done was help young people, frankly. I don't get nearly the joy teaching as I do out of creation.
My dad read history, about a book a day, but only after he retired as a successful bank and insurance man.
My aunts told wonderful stories. Not to me, but to each other. We had a very strong family. My mother's sisters loved each other intensely. The uncles loved each other intensely.
A man's got to do what a man's got to do. A woman must do what he can't.
I distrust thought. The interior life is highly overrated. I don't like the wispy and the vague… or inductive logic in any kind of writing. I'm impatient with writers who make too much sense. The better things that I've done have come to me by instinct.
I was born in Clinton, Mississippi, which had 1,500-2,500 people when I was growing up – a village.
I found out about reviews early on. They're mostly written by sad men on bad afternoons. That's probably why I'm less angry than some writers, who are so narcissistic they consider every line of every review, even a thoughtful one, as major treason.