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No adult in my family would ever tell me anything about who my father was. I knew from an older cousin - only four years older than I am - everything, or what little I could discover about him.
More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.
I've always been a fan of the 19th century novel, of the novel that is plotted, character-driven, and where the passage of time is almost as central to the novel as a major minor character, the passage of time and its effect on the characters in the story.
I think the sport of wrestling, which I became involved with at the age of 14... I competed until I was 34, kind of old for a contact sport. I coached the sport until I was 47. I think the discipline of wrestling has given me the discipline I have to write.
I take people very seriously. People are all I take seriously, in fact. Therefore, I have nothing but sympathy for how people behave - and nothing but laughter to console them with.
I suppose I'm proudest of my novels for what's imagined in them. I think the world of my imagination is a richer and more interesting place than my personal biography.
I have pretty thick skin, and I think if you're going to be in this business, if you're going to be an actor or a writer, you better have a thick skin.
I had been a student in Vienna, and one of the neat little things I had found out was about that zoo. It was a good debut novel for me to have published. I was 26 or 27 when it was published. I already had a kid and would soon have a second.
I don't begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don't mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey.
Half my life is an act of revision.
Good habits are worth being fanatical about.
And I find - I'm 63, and my capacity to be by myself and just spend time by myself hasn't diminished any. That's the necessary part of being a writer, you better like being alone.
And I don't want to begin something, I don't want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it's my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.
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