Writing is an incessant process of discovery.
Really, I don’t like to do any household chores. There was a time when I loved to cook, but that was when I wasn’t writing books.
On a very personal level, I have fond memories of spending a lot of time in the Library of Congress working on my collection of poems ‘Native Guard.’ I was there over a summer doing research in the archives and then writing in the reading room at the Jefferson building.
I work very hard on the writing, writing and rewriting and trying to weed out the lumber.
Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.
I tell my workshop students, ‘I want you to think of yourselves as artists. Then, when you’re writing, you’re painting, you’re crafting, you’re making a design, you’re sculpting, you’re creating choreography, sound, a sound script.’
When I applied for grad school, I did not specify genre. I said I wanted an MFA in Creative Writing. I was so cute and stupid! The admissions committee at Pitt decided to put me in poetry.
I’m a writer who simply can’t know what I’m writing about until the writing lets me discover it. In a sense, my writing process embraces the gapped nature of my memory process, leaping across spaces that represent all I’ve lost and establishing fresh patterns within all that remains.
Given the devaluation of literature and of the study of foreign languages per se in the United States, as well as the preponderance of theory over text in graduate literature studies, creative writing programs keep literature courses populated.
I write as a way of keeping myself going. You build your life around writing, and it’s what gets you through. So it’s partly just curiosity to see what you can do.