Q: Where and when do you do your writing? A: Any small room with no natural light will do. As for when, I have no particular schedules... afternoons are best, but I'm too lethargic for any real regime. When I'm in the flow of something I can do a regular 9 to 5; when I don't know where I'm going with an idea, I'm lucky if I do two hours of productive work. There is nothing more off-putting to a would-be novelist to hear about how so-and-so wakes up at four in the a.m, walks the dog, drinks three liters of black coffee and then writes 3,000 words a day, or that some other asshole only works half an hour every two weeks, does fifty press-ups and stands on his head before and after the "creative moment." I remember reading that kind of stuff in profiles like this and becoming convinced everything I was doing was wrong. What's the American phrase? If it ain't broke...
I don't see the use of reading the same thing over and over again,' said Phillip. 'That's only a laborious form of idleness.'But are you under the impression that you have so great a mind that you can understand the most profound writer at a first reading?'I don't want to understand him, I'm not a critic. I'm not interested in him for his sake but for mine.'Why do you read then?'Partly for pleasure, because it's a habit and I'm just as uncomfortable if I don't read as if I don't smoke, and partly to know myself. When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me; I've got out of the book all that's any use to me and I can't get anythning more if I read it a dozen times. ...
I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.
My mother used to read to me every night when I was little. We got through most of the major fantasy books of that time. The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis were my favorites and, later, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I started making dolls to fill in the gaps of the dolls I had. Obviously we couldn't buy centaurs and fauns and elves and fairies, so I made them to play with the normal dolls I had. I must have been about six years old when I started making fantasy dolls.
I feel to that the gap between my new life in New York and the situation at home in Africa is stretching into a gulf, as Zimbabwe spirals downwards into a violent dictatorship. My head bulges with the effort to contain both worlds. When I am back in New York, Africa immediately seems fantastical – a wildly plumaged bird, as exotic as it is unlikely.Most of us struggle in life to maintain the illusion of control, but in Africa that illusion is almost impossible to maintain. I always have the sense there that there is no equilibrium, that everything perpetually teeters on the brink of some dramatic change, that society constantly stands poised for some spasm, some tsunami in which you can do nothing but hope to bob up to the surface and not be sucked out into a dark and hungry sea. The origin of my permanent sense of unease, my general foreboding, is probably the fact that I have lived through just such change, such a sudden and violent upending of value systems.In my part of Africa, death is never far away. With more Zimbabweans dying in their early thirties now, mortality has a seat at every table. The urgent, tugging winds themselves seem to whisper the message, memento mori, you too shall die. In Africa, you do not view death from the auditorium of life, as a spectator, but from the edge of the stage, waiting only for your cue. You feel perishable, temporary, transient. You feel mortal. Maybe that is why you seem to live more vividly in Africa. The drama of life there is amplified by its constant proximity to death. That’s what infuses it with tension. It is the essence of its tragedy too. People love harder there. Love is the way that life forgets that it is terminal. Love is life’s alibi in the face of death. For me, the illusion of control is much easier to maintain in England or America. In this temperate world, I feel more secure, as if change will only happen incrementally, in manageable, finely calibrated, bite-sized portions. There is a sense of continuity threaded through it all: the anchor of history, the tangible presence of antiquity, of buildings, of institutions. You live in the expectation of reaching old age.At least you used to.But on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, those two states of mind converge. Suddenly it feels like I am back in Africa, where things can be taken away from you at random, in a single violent stroke, as quick as the whip of a snake’s head. Where tumult is raised with an abruptness that is as breathtaking as the violence itself.
I do not, can not write just for money. Lord knows I haven't made much. I write because it is what my Father has given me to do. I do not mean that He woke me one morn, put His finger to my forehead and commanded me write. I mean He quietly and gently in His grace, whispered into my head, into my heart: courage to fail, confidence to succeed, belief in my ability to learn and in my own self worth. So in thankfulness I write.
I write to find strength.I write to become the person that hides inside me.I write to light the way through the darkness for others.I write to be seen and heard.I write to be near those I love.I write by accident, promptings, purposefully and anywhere there is paper. I write because my heart speaks a different language that someone needs to hear.I write past the embarrassment of exposure.I write because hypocrisy doesn’t need answers, rather it needs questions to heal. I write myself out of nightmares.I write because I am nostalgic, romantic and demand happy endings.I write to remember.I write knowing conversations don’t always take place.I write because speaking can’t be reread.I write to sooth a mind that races.I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in the sand.I write because my emotions belong to the moon; high tide, low tide.I write knowing I will fall on my words, but no one will say it was for very long.I write because I want to paint the world the way I see love should be.I write to provide a legacy.I write to make sense out of senselessness.I write knowing I will be killed by my own words, stabbed by critics, crucified by both misunderstanding and understanding. I write for the haters, the lovers, the lonely, the brokenhearted and the dreamers.I write because one day someone will tell me that my emotions were not a waste of time. I write because God loves stories.I write because one day I will be gone, but what I believed and felt will live on.
My dad died, I write. almost a year ago. Car accident. My hand is shaking; my eyes sting and fill. I add Not his fault before pushing the notebook and pen back across the table, wiping a hand across my cheeks.As he reads, my impulse is to reach out, grab the notebook, run outside, dump it in the trash, bury it in the snow, throw it under the wheels of a passing car - something, something, so I can go back fifteen seconds when this part ofme was still shut away and private. Then I look at Ravi's face again, and the normally white white whites of his eyes are pink. This causes major disruption to my ability to control the flow of my own tears. I see myself when I look at him right now: he's reflecting my sadness, my broken heart, back to me.He takes the pe, writes, and slides it over. You'd think it's something epic from the way it levels my heart. It isn't.I'm really sorry, Jill.Four little words.
In eleven or twelve years of writing, Mike, I can lay claim to at least this: I have never written beneath myself. I have never written anything that I didn't want my name attached to. I have probed deeper in some scripts and I've been more successful in some than others. But all of them that have been on, you know, I'll take my lick. They're mine and that's the way I wanted them.
You know that frustrating feeling of losing the page in your book? You didn't want to go too far ahead and spoil the surprise, and you didn't want to go too far back, so you kind of stagnated and started from a page that didn't seem quite right, but you read it a few times just to convince yourself... That was how I felt about my life. A little lost, I guess you could say.
A lot of people who read my novel 'Smog City' ask me why I never killed off either of the two main characters. To be honest, it's because I've given them life. Not literally of course, but since I spent so much time developing and creating my characters, they've ended up with complex personalities, in fact they're almost sentient in a way, and to write them off as dead would be like killing a close friend to me.
I love so many books and authors that it's hard to name just a few, but I'm always particularly excited when new books by Alice Hoffman, John Crowley, Joanne Harris, Elizabeth Knox, and Patricia McKillip come out. (And, of course, books by Ellen [Kushner], and Holly [Black], and the rest of the Bordertown crew!) I'm impatiently looking forward to Susanna Clarke's next book too.Aside from writing and reading, my favorite things to do are paint, walk in the countryside with my dog, and listen to music -- especially when it's live and it's played by friends. Fortunately there's a lot of live music where I live.
My wife and I just don't have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don't love her anymore and she doesn't love me. What can i do?""The feeling isn't there anymore?" I asked."That's right," he reaffirmed. "And we have three children we're really concerned about. What do you suggest?""love her," I replied."I told you, the feeling just isn't there anymore.""Love her.""You don't understand. the feeling of love just isn't there.""Then love her. If the feeling isn't there, that's a good reason to love her.""But how do you love when you don't love?" "My friend , love is a verb. Love - the feeling - is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?