Tobias Wolff’s Paris Review Interview: Writing Distractions and More

If someone could grant your wish to be a novelist, how would your life change?  What does a novelist do?  He writes.  What do you do?  That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.  What do I do?  Am I writing?  Why not?  I think writing is like trying to go to sleep when you’re not tired.  A part of you wants to go into the dream world, but the more powerful world around you–the light, the clock, the TV, the dirty sink–call for you.  I know how to brush my teeth, make a cup of tea, strum a guitar.  But how to make an imaginary world.  Fear is part of it, I’m sure.

In his Paris Review interview, Tobias Wolff talks about the distractions of writing and much more:

No, I have a study in the basement of the university library. They offered me a nice place to work with a view of the Stanford hills, and I turned it down for this dump in the stacks because I’m so easily distracted. All I need is a window to not write. The only books I keep with me are a dictionary and some other reference books. If I have a good novel in the room with me, I’ll end up reading that. Writing’s hard. You’ll take any out, if you can. I work best away from the house because I’m too tempted to check for calls and my mail and deal with tradesmen and run an errand, go out for lunch.


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