How to Tell if You’re a Writer

Question: Did you know from an early age that you would be a writer?

John Irving: I supposed I had a number of what I might call pre-writing moments as a kid. I recognized at a pretty early age, certainly I was pre-teens, I noticed that the school day was enough of a day to spend with my friends. I seemed to have a need to want to be alone. Even before I started making almost landscape notes in a journal, even before I started keeping a journal, which happened to me when I was fourteen, even before then I had a need to come home from school by myself and to be in a room by myself or in my grandmother's garden by myself. I guess the earliest sign was how much I liked being alone, how much I actually needed to be alone, the way you need, or I need, exercise or food or a certain amount of sleep. There was that desire to be, and a comfort, at being alone.

Recorded on: October 30, 2009

For John Irving, the need for a daily ration of solitude was his strongest "pre-writing" moment as a child.

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