Obviously, in journalism, you’re confined to what happens. And the tendency to embellish, to mythologize, it’s in us. It makes things more interesting, a closer call. But journalism taught me how to write a sentence that would make someone want to read the next one.
I started writing by doing small related things but not the thing itself, circling it and getting closer. I had no idea how to write fiction. So I did journalism because there were rules I could learn. You can teach someone to write a news story. They might not write a great one, but you can teach that pretty easily.
I probably have less revision than those who have that wonderful rush of story to tell – you know, I can’t wait to tell you what happened the other day. It comes tumbling out and maybe then they go back and refine. I kind of envy that way of working, but I just have never done it.
I had a mother I could only seem to please with verbal accomplishments of some sort or another. She read constantly, so I read constantly. If I used words that might have seemed surprising at a young age, she would recognize that and it would please her.
I wanted to be a veterinarian, but slipped up when I hit organic chemistry.
I do feel that if you can write one good sentence and then another good sentence and then another, you end up with a good story.
I’m not first and foremost interested in story and the what-happens, but I’m interested in who’s telling it and how they’re telling it and the effects of whatever happened on the characters and the people.
I’ve always known when I start a story what the last line is. It’s always been the case, since the first story I ever wrote. I don’t know how it’s going to get there, but I seem to need the destination. I need to know where I end up. It never changes, ever.