Denis Johnson says it all in this brief interview after being nominated for the National Book Award.
What a lovely way to describe his process–“I don’t have much interest whether any of my books work or not.” If only more writers wrote with such disregard toward their audience, and such regard for the truth of the material.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview….
BAJ: Were there moments in your writing process where you worried the book wouldn’t work? If so, how did you press on?
DJ: Well, I’ve never thought about this before, but now that you ask, it occurs to me I don’t have much interest whether any of my books work or not.
BAJ: If there is a common thread among this year’s fiction finalists, it might be that all of the books employ interesting narrative structures and scopes. Although Tree of Smoke moves, for the most part, chronologically through its storylines, you’ve given the reader a sweeping, multifaceted, and expansive narrative. Did you conceive of such scope before beginning the book, or did the symbiotic relationship between the subject and structure emerge more intuitively?
DJ: I’m fond of quoting T.S. Eliot, who somewhere said he was concerned, while writing, mainly “with decisions of a quasi-musical nature.”
BAJ: Finally, when you were writing Tree of Smoke, did you have an audience or ideal reader in mind? If so, who?
DJ: I write for my wife, my agent, and my editor.
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