How novelists write novels — and survive

Matthew Gallaway, novelist & intrepid interviewer of novelists

Funny and incisive, The Awl blog — whose aspirational tag line is “Be less stupid.” — has inaugurated what will be a series of posts on the topic of how writers write, and how they live while writing, and (in some cases) how they live by writing. Matthew Gallaway‘s first post (go here) is on the rather ticklish subject of novel-writing, ticklish because (as you’ll read) there’s nothing quite so physically and emotionally hazardous to a writer as thinking up and labouriously typing out a story that holds together for hundreds of pages of text, and that somehow goes on to capture a reader’s interest for the whole journey (or at least enough of it to count). Matthew interviews four novelists, all of whom are insightful and probably honest, and one of whom may additionally be mad.

JENNIE PORTNOF
I’ve been writing my book for two years, and realistically it will probably take another year or so before it takes any kind of shape that I’m good with. I think there’s a correlation to a tremendous amount of stuff to do and sex and exploration and New York City and interesting, attractive people that makes or breaks a poet and writer. There really is nothing to do except pull things out of the continuous waterfall and utilize them. Really. I think if you can become aware of yourself here in any capacity, as an artist, a person, a human being, a writer or poet, you’re miraculous in and of yourself. Parties, readings, museums, art openings, music. None of these cost as much as a drug or drinking habit. You’re not really writing anything; you are being written…

Matthew Gallaway is a novelist too. His website is here and his upcoming book, The Metropolis Case, can be pre-ordered here.