One story I've been trying to write for years, and haven't been able to finish, is about a face I saw, just a glimpse of a face, in a max security prison in North Carolina. I'm still trying to understand what I saw in that guy's face.
I always say writing fiction isn't something you teach. It's something you do, and only experimentation - i.e. doing it, either badly or good sometimes - can help anybody get any better or worse at it.
I think anything we do - eating, walking down the street, online shopping - gives you another perspective on writing stories.
As a professor I can't teach writing.
I write by hand in my notebooks and number the drafts, so I know how crazy I can get with this. Some writers, like my teacher Marilynne Robinson, she only writes one draft. I've thought about this a lot; I think it's because she writes it 80 times in her head before it comes out.
I write when I have something to say and not when I don't. My time is better spent if I know I have nothing to say. I don't consider it writer's block; I just don't have anything to say.
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