Michael Chabon: “Writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the novelist Michael Chabon, born in Washington, D.C. in 1963. . . .He was in his mid-20s, a graduate student in creative writing at the University of California Irvine, when he submitted his master’s thesis, a novel about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality. His professor was so impressed that he sent the manuscript off to an agent as soon as he finished reading it, and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh was published in 1988 to rave reviews.

Then Chabon spent five years working on an enormous manuscript, trying to pack everything that interested him into one novel. But it wasn’t coming together, and one night an entirely new plot came into his head, and he wrote 15 pages of this new story in one sitting. He saved the file under the name “X,” and didn’t tell his editor, agent, or even his wife that he had started a new project.

He said, “I didn’t stop to think about what I was doing … or what the critics would think of it, and sweetest of all, I didn’t give a single thought to what I was trying to say. I just wrote.” Almost two months later, he gave his wife more than 100 pages to read, and she started laughing out loud while she was reading, so he knew that it was good. He finished it in seven months, and it was The Wonder Boys. He went on to write The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,which won the Pulitzer Prize.

He said: “There have been plenty of self-destructive rebel-angel novelists over the years, but writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day. If you want to write novels, they take a long time, and they’re big, and they have a lot of words in them…. The best environment, at least for me, is a very stable, structured kind of life.”

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