A novelist’s job is almost to be a stupid as possible, except in the cunning moment when you need to structure something, when you need to be very intelligent indeed. The rest of the time, you need almost an empty mind, where you can let any image in, follow it along, and allow an emotional charge, almost the way actors and singers can work. The more instinct you have as a novelist, and the less intelligence, the better.
The last time I was intimidated was when I was 6 years old in karate class. I was an orange belt and the instructor ordered me to fight a black belt who was a couple years older and a lot bigger. I was scared s—less. I mean, I was terrified and he kicked my ass. But then I realized he didn’t kick my ass as bad as I thought he was going to and that there was nothing really to be afraid of. That was around the time I realized that intimidation didn’t really exist if you’re in the right frame of mind.
I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.