Alaa Al Aswany on His Creative Process

al Aswany: Everybody has to find his own way.  I work on the characters, you see.  That’s the most important thing.  I work on my characters.  I make files on the computer for different characters.  Everyday I write fiction only in the early morning, for some reasons.  I cannot write during the day.  I must wake up every day at 6 AM.  I write from 6:30 to 10:30 everyday, AM.  And then I put very tiny details, you see.  It’s like I try all the time to see the character.  If I am writing about a lady, I must see her very clearly, so I put, for example, how her hair is, I mean the color of the hair, if she does smoke or she doesn’t smoke, the way she’s dressed, many, many tiny details.  And then, at one moment, I see the characters.  The characters are no more imaginary, you see?  I believe they do exist.  And this is the moment when I begin the writing.  I begin the writing with a very general idea about what’s going to happen in the novel, which is mostly it’s going to change during the writing, but I keep writing with my friends, my characters who are now my friends, because they do exist with me, until another moment, which is another moment happens.  The other moment is the great moment of fiction writing, in my opinion, when I don’t have any more control of the characters.  The characters become independent.  It sounds very mysterious, but this is exactly what’s happening.  I mean, every morning I, on the screen of my imagination, I see what they are doing and I describe what I see, and it’s an unbelievable pleasure for a writer to do this, you see?  And this will explain many things.  For example, I don’t have control on the endings on my novel.  I did not choose the endings.  Many of the opinions of my characters I disagree with, you see?  But now, they are totally independent.  I mean, they have their own life and they decide for themselves and I just follow them, you see, to describe their life. 

All writers have to find their own rhythm, but Alaa Al Aswany finds his between 6 and 10:30 am.

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