Q. Is writing easy? A. It’s goddamn hard. Of course when it’s going well…

Robert Stone in 2010.

From a Paris Review interview with Robert Stone, author of The Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers, and other novels:

Q. Is writing easy for you? Does it flow smoothly?

A. It’s goddamn hard. Nobody really cares whether you do it or not. You have to make yourself do it. I’m very lazy and I suffer as a result. Of course, when it’s going well there’s nothing in the world like it. But it’s also very lonely. If you do something you’re really pleased with, you’re in the crazy position of being exhilarated all by yourself.

I remember finishing one section of Dog Soldiers—the end of Hicks’s walk—in the basement of a college library, working at night, while the rest of the place was closed down, and I staggered out in tears, talking to myself, and ran into a security guard.

It’s hard to come down from a high in your work—it’s one of the reasons writers drink. The exhilaration of your work turns into the daily depression of the aftermath. But if you heal that with a lot of Scotch you’re not fit for duty the next day. When I was younger I was able to use hangovers, but now I have to go to bed early.

Q. Do you have any special requirements, conditions necessary for your working environment?

A. Well, of course, I find ways to delay the day as much as possible, but there are no particular rituals connected with that for me, like having a special coffee cup or sharpening six pencils. I do need physical order, because I’m addressing the insubstantiality of structures—that’s where the blank page starts. No top, no bottom, no sides. I find it hard to sit still. I pace a lot. I’ve got to have a pen in my hand when I’m not actually typing.

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