I can get really obsessive. I like writing many drafts, and I try not to because it is very time-consuming, especially when you're working on a novel. But I do like to take a story and reorder it, put things in different places. This allows me to see things in a new and sometimes surprising way.
Each story presents a mystery that has to be solved in the process of writing. When I'm at work on a story, I'm completely immersed in that world and in the lives of those characters; they're utterly real to me. Then, when I've completed the story, it all just falls away. The whole compulsion to understand is over.
Language and written language are the only real way we have to see inside another person's thoughts and to know what makes another person human. Without writing, we just wouldn't have that kind of access.
I started to read at a very early age, and I just thought that books and reading were really the most wonderful thing that life had to offer. I think I wrote my very first piece of fiction at the age of 12, but then I didn't write any more for quite a long time.
It wasn't until I started to read short stories – by people like Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, John Updike… Eudora Welty – that I became excited about the possibilities of writing.
I have a preference for writing that deals with domestic issues; even in visual art, I like work that focuses on very small aspects of human life. I like movies that have a very narrow focus. I can see how it might be viewed as limiting, but I don't experience it that way.