Monthly Archives: January 2009

John Updike, 1968

From a Paris Review interview. I love how humbly he maps out his daily writing regimen, as if it’s something any old hack could adopt. Needless to say, I’m trying to.

I write every weekday morning. I try to vary what I am doing, and my verse, or poetry, is a help here. Embarked on a long project, I try to stay with it even on dull days. For every novel, however, that I have published, there has been one unfinished or scrapped. Some short stories — I think offhand of “Lifeguard,” “The Taste of Metal,” “My Grandmother’s Thimble” — are fragments salvaged and reshaped. Most came right the first time — rode on their own melting, as Frost said of his poems. If there is no melting, if the story keeps sticking, better stop and look around. In the execution there has to be a “happiness” that can’t be willed or foreordained. It has to sing, click, something. I try instantly to set in motion a certain forward tilt of suspense or curiosity, and at the end of the story or novel to rectify the tilt, to complete the motion.

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