Writing a Novel vs. Making an Album

Both are hard, but for the musician and author, one was “terrifying.”
  • Transcript


Question: What made you want to write a novel?

Josh Ritter: I really have wanted to do it for a long time and I’ve started and I’ve worked on a number of different things that were all just terrible.  But I got this idea when I was working on “So Runs the World Away,” and I had this idea as I started writing the song, and it was way too long a song.  It was about a guy who has an angel who tells him to do things. Not necessarily a guardian angel, but it was a long song, and it was pretty overwrought and I realized it needed a lot more subtlety, more subtlety that I can get into a song. And so I stared writing and I wrote 1,000 words a day for 50 or 55 days and then I had this big rough draft.  And then after that, it was just, you know, keep on going over it and over it.  And it really is, it’s like you’re writing a really long song.  Every word kind of matters and if it doesn’t feel right you’ve got to work until it does.  So, yeah, I’m very excited.  It’s coming out next year.

Question: Which is harder, writing a novel or making an album?

Josh Ritter: Well, putting together an album is a group effort, you know?  Luckily you have a number of people that can help and everything from helping you to record it to—I write a song and I bring it to my band and I say, let’s like open this up and fiddle around with it, and I’m so lucky to have that, people to help record it.  But with a novel, it’s you’re kind of going across the page alone and there’s been times when that’s been really tremendous.  It’s like running; it’s like a solitary thing.  And other times, it’s just really terrifying.

Recorded April 5, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen