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Washing Off the Stink of Pomposity

Question: What is your working method like?

Tim O’Brien: I write every day.  I get up around 5:00 or so and get two little kids off to school, and then I go to work around 9:00 and work until 4:00 or so.  And then do it pretty much every da

Question: What is your working method \r\nlike?


Tim O’Brien: I write every day.  I get up around 5:00 or so and get two little kids off\r\n to\r\nschool, and then I go to work around 9:00 and work until 4:00 or so.  And then do it pretty much every day.


Question: Does the work ever get any \r\neasier?


Tim O’Brien: Oh, I wish.  No\r\n it doesn’t get any easier.  It gets harder, in \r\nfact, because you can’t write the same\r\nbook, and that’s always tempting. \r\nThe making of sentences is hard work.  You \r\ncan’t copy your own sentences and you can’t copy those\r\nof others, and so you’re searching for a certain grace and a certain \r\nrhythm and\r\nmelody that’s underneath the prose that carries the story.


Question: What mistakes do you try to \r\navoid in writing?


Tim O’Brien: Great question. \r\n The first answer that pops to my head is absolutism,\r\ncertainty.  I am certain about very\r\nlittle in this world and I distrust those who are.  If\r\n I feel the stink and the smell of blinders and of\r\npomposity and pretentiousness that for me accompanies certainty—a little\r\n bit\r\nof hypocrisy also weaves its way through absolutism.  And\r\n there’s so much of it around, it’s on television, every\r\ntalk show seems to have it.  And in\r\nthe real world, I’m always encountering people who declare things about \r\nthe\r\nworld I live in with a certainty that I just don’t see around me.  And in my writing, that shows.  That’s\r\n why the issue of truth appears\r\nso much throughout all of my books, that I’m skeptical of what’s \r\ndeclared to be\r\ntrue.

Recorded March 22, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Writing never gets easier, but there are certain mistakes writers can learn to avoid.

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