Question: How do you write?
David Remnick: I’ll make a terrible admission to you. One of the most difficult aspects of becoming an editor was trying to understand other writers and help them, encourage them, push them, all the same. And to discover that more writers than I would have imagined – I think they’re being honest – protest that they hate writing. They don’t like writing. It’s painful. It’s all those things that you’ve heard. I didn’t realize it ran as deep or as wide.
The terrible confession I’m making – and maybe it speaks to the banality of my own writing or the limitations of my own writing – I actually love to do it.
I think there are probably musicians that love to rehearse and sit at the piano. And then there are ones that really like to have recorded, and like to have played, and like to do almost anything else. But it’s especially true with writing.
I find that the stimulation, and the getting it wrong,and the finally figuring out what it is that you think, or the process of making a story out of reality; that actually is true; enormously, endlessly exciting.
I love doing it. Again I’m just a journalist, but there are sculptors that just like having their hand in the clay all the time. And a word for that where writing might be concerned is a “graphomaniac”. But certainly in recent years I can’t be accused of writing too much.
Question: Do you ever get writer’s block?
David Remnick: No, I just get bad writing. Writer’s block means nothing comes out. I haven’t had that experience in any serious way. I’ve had endless frustration. I’ve filled garbage cans or now bins on your little desktop. But I don’t mind the _________ necessary for writing; the sort of ass in the chair, concentrated time. In fact I relish it.
Recorded on Jan 7, 2008