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Calvin Trillin is a journalist, humorist and novelist. Best known for his humorous writing about food and eating, he is also the author of several books of fiction, nonfiction essays,[…]

Trying to figure out what goes first and what goes second.

Calvin Trillin: Well I think writing is . . . It’s not the actual sentences. I mean it’s not the language, I think, for most people. I think you can write a sentence as well as you can write it. I mean it sounds like a truism; but in fact if you work on it long enough, write it enough times, you can write it as well as you can write it. You may not write it as well as John Updike could write it, but you can write it as well as you can write it. The hard part of most writing, I think, is the structure of wanting to know . . . of trying to figure out what goes first, and what goes second, and how that leads into something that doesn’t jump around. Or at least the hard part of the sort of writing I usually do. I think the hard part of, say, trying to write a column or a piece of humor is just staring at the page and realizing you might not be able to write anything. I mean that’s not true in reporting pieces where you have sort of a corpus to work on.


Recorded on: 9/5/07