In conversation with the author (V)

“What’s the hardest part about writing?”

“Man, you’ve gotta be more precise with your questions. How am I supposed to answer that kind of question? It’s just too broad, there are many things I could talk about that are all really damn hard, but for different reasons.”

“Such as?”

“Well, sitting in front of a blank page for four hours a day, that’s bloody hard. So the writing itself is hard. But the not-writing is also hard, like sitting here and answering these vague questions, or dealing with my agent and trying to get the book published, or going to book signings and reading a part of your book and then having to pretend to be all sociable and friendly with random strangers. That’s hard too. You know, most people don’t become writers because they want to be on stage or stand around for hours chatting to strangers about trivialities.”

“And stylistically? What do you currently find hardest when it comes to describing a scene?”

“Again, that’s still vague. I’m not a philosopher, I don’t have new ideas. I’m a novelist, I just try and say the same old five wisdoms everyone knows from childhood in a way that makes people remember them. I don’t write about new ideas, I write about old ideas in a pretty way. So describing a scene is kind of my entire job.”

“I can rephrase if you like.”

“No, it’s fine, I’ve got something that ‘shows the life of a writer’ or whatever it is you want to do. The hardest thing is figuring out the right amount of detail to include, so knowing what detail is necessary for people to get the vibe of the scene that doesn’t slow down the action too much.”

“Do you have an example?”

“Yes I do. Say someone is going to see a friend. He is now walking along the road on which his friend’s house is. Now, you could simply say ‘he walks along the road’, or you could even leave it out. But you could also go further and say what the road was like, like ‘he walks along the dirt road’ or ‘he walks along the muddy road that winds up the hill. The thick rain pours onto his face’, but you could of course also go further and describe his inner monologue, what he’s going through. Because so far it’s all just objective description, right? You can then of course describe what he’s thinking and how he feels about what’s happening, or that maybe he’s trepid or afraid about seeing his friend, or he’s looking forward to it, or maybe he doesn’t even care and he’s thinking about all the things that happened ages ago. You see, a guy walking along a road could be anything from left out entirely to a 30-page description of his inner stream of consciousness. Now, a lot of this is just personal style, and your perspective will ultimately define a lot of the boundaries as to what you include, but still, knowing what to include and what to exclude is probably the hardest part.”

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