Frequently Asked Questions
What made you decide to become a writer?
I knew it involved a lot of sitting down and I was already accustomed to rejection.
What are some simple words of advice for people who want to become professional writers?
I read that Stephen King is a millionaire. Do most writers get rich?
Writing is an occupation in which there is also a 1% trend. A small number of writers earn the greatest share of money spent on books. And like in the real world of actors, business people, politicians, and everyone else, talent and hard work aren’t everything. Luck is also important. Many of the finest writers alive must supplement their writing earnings through teaching or other jobs.
Why are books so expensive?
If you are a reader and I hope you are, consider how many hours of enlightenment or entertainment you get from a book. Let’s say you spend twenty hours reading a book that costs you twenty dollars. That means you’ve paid a dollar an hour for an experience that is likely to be lasting in your memory. When you are through you still have the book. If you borrow the book from a library, it costs you nothing. If you spend ten dollars to go to a two-hour movie you are paying five dollars an hour for gaining impressions that will likely disappear by tomorrow.
How do you write things that are funny?
Don’t try too hard.
What is your favorite book?
Often, it is the last one I’ve read. Over time there are four that I’ve read more than once: GRAPES of WRATH (John Steinbeck), THE GREAT GATSBY (F. Scott Fitrzgerald), ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Erich Maria Remarque), ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Who are your favorite writers?
In addition to the above: Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Graham Greene, and many others.
I’ve heard it takes a long time to learn to become a writer who makes a decent living. What is a good trick to help me get by while I am learning?
What exactly is a so-called “Work in Progress?”
Where do you get your ideas?
There is no special knack. They arise from everyday living and curiosity. Many non-writers possess much more vivid imaginations than mine. John McPhee, a wonderful writer of nonfiction, says that ideas are like flotsam in a stream. There are always more coming around the bend.