1. Sheila Heti’s First Time
  2. 92Y/The Paris Review Interview Series: Iris Murdoch
  3. The Paris Review Interviews, Vols 1-4
  4. A Tour & Honest Review of PARIS | Best City on Earth?
  5. Jeffrey Eugenides’s First Time
  6. J. Robert Lennons First Time
  7. Helen DeWitt’s First Time

Sheila Heti’s First Time

I really wanted to be a playwright it,seemed to me like them,thing you could possibly do is be a,playwright in your like be like Joe Hart,and have a lot of sex and write plays I,had a very romantic idea about about,that life I never thought that I wanted,to be a novelist it novelist seemed to,me like the most boring possible thing,you could be and writing always seemed,the most boring possible thing you could,do but then I changed my mind I think I,just remember being up in the middle of,the night and feeling alert and saying,well I should put this to use you know I,should you should write like dont waste,your time I began writing the stories,when I was in university at the,University of Toronto studying art,history and philosophy and I was living,in my fathers basement and then living,in my mothers basement that was going,to university part-time working,part-time to pay for it and I guess I,started writing this stories sort of in,reaction to being sort of kicked out of,theater school and slash quitting I,wasnt able to have faith in writing,plays anymore and I just thought I have,to teach myself how to write in a new,way when I would sit down to write Id,write like six or seven stories in a row,as fast as I could just as fast as I,could type and I had this idea that if I,just wrote as much as possible always,trying to get to at the end of a story I,could turn myself into sort of a machine,that would write these stories it wasnt,about the stories it was about like,getting the process right and once I,figured out the process and both the,Machine then the stories would would,come my idea was like if I had just read,hundreds of stories then surely like,twenty of them or thirty of them will be,good just exactly the way they were,written I really was thinking like I,have to work harder than any other,writer in the world I just wanted so,badly to figure this out to figure out,how to write I was reading a lot of,fables and a lot of Hans Christian,Andersen and Brothers Grimm I would like,would write these lists of the titles of,all the fables that I could find theres,something about being told bedtime,stories that a parent is making up as,they go along thats in,this book for me I put stories in,envelopes on the subway and hope that,and I mailed them to people out of the,phonebook I just want to feel like,somebody was reading them like it wasnt,that there was a possibility that they,had they had an audience like even if it,was one random person who didnt know,what why they were getting this in the,mail I got a lot of rejections were very,good reasons I see now by the time I was,pretty upset about and I think it was,1999 or so that the stories were in,drawn and quarterly to stories and then,around that time I also sent five,stories to Dave Eggers and McSweeneys,their thing at the time was like we,published stories that nobody else want,and I thought well my stories fit into,that category,Dave sent me an email on a Sunday and I,remember this so vividly because I was,like why somebody emailing me on Sunday,it was so unusual to get email on the,weekend because of that publication a,Nancy this Canadian publishing house,asked me if I had more stories and if I,could make a book that was really hard,to find a title it just had hundreds of,titles and knows I was like drawing,little boxes with like different titles,in them and then Sheila heti like trying,to like visualize it as a cover,I wrote down like every suffix and every,prefix and like I was trying to put make,new words and I was trying everything,and I had horrible titles like the,eyeless translators one-eyed storybook,the middle-sized just came like it,instantly seemed right and Ive so,relieved to have it and I didnt have a,sense that it meant anything in,particular I just like the way that it,sounded and it seemed right I didnt,feel so good about the book necessarily,at that point I think it just like set,me up for a really enjoying process and,thinking more about the process than the,then the final book that continues to be,the most interesting thing to think,about for me is not like the book itself,but what needs to be done to get the,book written what kind of person do you,need to be to write this book in what,ways do you need to trick yourself in,order to write this book I feel like,that to me is what I think the most,about I think I dont actually think as,much about plot or character I like,inventing the self that makes that book

92Y/The Paris Review Interview Series: Iris Murdoch

92nd Street Y online media is made,possible by a generous gift in memory of,Christopher Lightfoot Walker a longtime,friend of nine – wise Unterberger poetry,Center and the Paris Review this program,part of an ongoing collaboration between,the poetry Center and the review,features the writers at work interview,with Iris Murdoch it was recorded on,February 22nd 1990 before a live,audience at New Yorks 92nd Street Y,could you begin by telling us a little,bit about your childhood and early youth,Id like to begin by graphically I,remember you said to me once when we,were talking that you had had an idyllic,childhood and as an only child,experienced what you called a perfect,Trinity of love with your parents and I,find this in itself such a rare,circumstance that I wonder if you could,talk about it a little bit,well I was I was born in Dublin and my,parents are Protestant Irish and my,father decided for reasons which Ive,never entirely been able to sort out,though I can guess at I suppose that,some of them decided to leave Ireland,when I was one I was removed therefore,to London where he went into the civil,service so I grew up in London though I,went to Ireland for holidays and I feel,extremely Irish and feely I feel very,involved in Ireland and in whats,happening in our live now but I grew up,in London and I went to a boarding,school and then I went on to to Oxford,and at Oxford you did great I did great,sales that is Greek and Latin classical,languages into history and philosophy so,I got,big dose of philosophy there Im,interested you said one point that you,had started out you knew very early on,that you were going to be a writer and,yet at Oxford you gravitated more,towards philosophy of course they didnt,have such things as creative writing,they still dont yeah their identity -,oh well Im afraid the study of,temporary or authors which I rather,deplore actually has begun in Oxford but,not as far as creative writing goes no,okay what do they call contemporary my,day it was the Yates and all oh well now,Im afraid its its you know what was,published last week but this is a very,bad arrangement I think because it means,that young people will always tend to,want to read the modern books probably,they find them easier and so on and they,want to be up-to-date and so forth and,to spend hours of study and a great,university reading the latest novel it,seems to me a waste of time they ought,to be reading things which are much more,difficult but probably much more,rewarding I mean the the literature of,the past in Chaucer Spencer Shakespeare,Milton around the rich 19th century,novels because they will find these less,accessible later on if they dont read,them there and they may simply lose that,part of their education altogether if,they spend time with the bottoms and so,you you concentrated as an undergraduate,greats is the classics but then you,decide to to make an academic career on,a philosophy for time – well I didnt,really decide anything because of the,war and so on I I knew very early on,that I wanted to be right I mean when I,was child I knew that but the war really,disturbed all ones feelings of the,future very profoundly obviously and,when I finished my undergraduate degree,I was immediately,conscripted because everybody was and I,went into the civil service into the,Treasury and I spent a couple of years,and then I went into amra and worked,with refugees in in different parts of,Europe after the war yeah could you,explain to us what that is that was the,United Nations United Nations relief and,rehabilitation organization it still,exists under a slightly similar name,uh-huh and what sort of an experience,was that well it was a big story I mean,it I was working,first of all in in Belgium at a sort of,headquarters but I wanted to get out,onto the Battlefront as it were and and,I then was working in refugee camps in,Austria where the scene was desolation I,mean transport had broken down,food supplies had broken down people who,had been taken over by Hitler as forced,labor were wandering about,hoping to find some question due to it,to be and somewhere where they could be,fed and then ultimately of course,somewhere to go to because a lot of,these people didnt want to go back to,their home countries which might have,been Yugoslavia or Poland or,Czechoslovakia or something they well a,lot of them wanted to come here uh-huh,well you yourself I read somewhere that,you were offered a fellowship to America,in 1946 was it after the war yeah yes it,was bit later than – yes yes and what,happened the well what happened was the,McCarran act well I dont want to sound,like this isnt the McCarthy hearings,but yeah you were you were a member of,the Communist are you now or have you,ever been,because this is the 90s,yes well I was a member of the Amish,party for short time when I was a,student it around about 1939 but I left,it just as well in a way to have seen,the inside of ox ISM in a way because,then when one realizes how strong it is,and how awful it is I mean it is,certainly in its organized form well,what do you think it taught you well I,think to have read a lot of a lot of,marks I mean to read the texts is,valuable I mean one its part of our,history and its it said these were very,very influential books but the,organization of the party was very,depressing,I didnt like it and I soon got fed up,with it however I mean this had,repercussions later on because I was,awarded in nineteen I cant remember her,example she I know it must have been up,in 1947 by then yes a scholarship to,come to FAFSA and I was longing to go to,America I mean you know it was sort of,such an adventure you see after being,cooped up in England during the war one,did want to travel and see the world I,very much wanted to go to America but I,was prevented by the McCarran act I was,not given a visa which meant that I had,to spend a whole year in England sort of,unemployed because there was a lot of I,may say there wasnt much to do about,this a Bertrand Russell got involved and,just gaze yes it was a sort of tiny,little coarser labor actually Bertrand,Russell and and justice frankfurter were,involved today trying to say have,wickedness as well but McCarran act is,made of on its still here and I still,have to ask for waiver if I want to come,to this guys all right even now yeah,well its lunatic and one of the,question the switches sometimes ill,struttin by some naive person,some official is can you prove that you,are no longer member of the Communist I,could think that would be very difficult,to do I think it would be extremely,difficult as I left it by fifty years,ago so instead of coming to America then,you want to spend a lot of time in Paris,and is that right and well I did spend a,lot of time Paris yes but it was really,a struggle luck this because it meant,that I I have around four year during,which time I read philosophy by myself,really was some help from people in,Oxford and then I went to Cambridge,which was I got a scholarship at,Cambridge as a postgraduate and Vidkun,Stein was there he was just leaving,unfortunately what I had to ascertain we,have talked with him before he left and,but Cambridge was simply crammed with,with Victor Steiner I mean his disciples,were there and his friends were there,and I spent the year talking to them and,that was a very profitable year indeed,how do you think philosophy since youre,formally trained in and have written,several books of philosophy and taught,it for many years how has it affected,your fiction how does it the issues that,you treat of in your in your philosophy,show up in your novels well I dont,think they show up directly at all,except occasionally Ive had Ive had a,couple of characters who were,philosophers but its just that I mean,if if one and sure this rumors its full,of novelists for people whos become,novelists and the great thing is to know,something you know to know about,something about that that that would be,a good idea I must ke

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The Paris Review Interviews, Vols 1-4

the paris review interviews,volumes one through four,so the paris review is a magazine uh,its not a french magazine but uh,its called the paris view any review,anyway and they publish a bunch of stuff,in their magazine but one of the things,that they publish are interviews with,writers so this one comes in a slip,cover,and the writers,that theyve interviewed for these,volumes are,listed here,as you can see,a lot of the great writers,of the last,70 years or so,i probably should do a series on all the,writers that are listed here that ive,got,some other,some other writing,of but maybe thats for another time,lets have a look at books themselves,theyre paperback theyre just,simple,paperback books nothing particularly,special there,and uh within well just pick one,of them,within them are simple straightforward,interviews with several writers on the,back or rather on the front of each book,it tells you,which writers are interviewed,the interviews go,pretty deep theyre great really,they sit around they take their time,its not like oh heres 10 questions,run-of-the-mill questions for you to,answer they really they really get into,discussions its great,and for most of them in the beginning,maybe all of them,in the beginning heres jack kerouac,of the interview they they show,something of a draft,from that writer see,so you can see this one is from on the,road jack kerouacs most famous writing,and so you know you can see that for for,everyone lets see heres,just to pick a couple of at random,if i can get to the front page here but,you can see that these are,real uh,deep interviews look at that thats,pretty cool,so they they talk about being a writer i,mean they talk about something of their,own lives and everything,but they also talk about,the experience,and the work of of being a writer i did,a video with,eb white so maybe i should look for a,see how eb white edits,check that,out this is from a new york times,article i mean that the writing went,into a new york times article,this is his draft and edits,i love this stuff i find it really,interesting,whats he saying here,i think it is safe to say,that this uh its a little hard to read,maybe someone else can read it,anyway its great uh if youre,interested in these writers at all or in,the process of writing,these interviews are pretty interesting,so thats the paris review,interviews volumes one through four,comes with a slipcover if you buy them,all you can probably buy them,independently as well

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A Tour & Honest Review of PARIS | Best City on Earth?

oh,[Music],[Music],[Music],so,[Music],[Music],[Music],foreign,[Music],do,[Applause],[Music],hi there bonjour,good afternoon,welcome to paris,this is the notre dame cathedral,groundbreaking on the construction began,in 1163,it was constructed over the 12th and,13th centuries,considered one of the finest,examples of gothic architecture and a,symbol of,paris and of france,on april 15 2019 a fire broke out,and badly damaged the cathedral,so it is now closed,and being renovated,it is expected to be completed by april,15 2024 in another two years,so,im gabriel morris welcome to my channel,gabriel traveler,today im going to give a,honest,review and do my best to give a tour of,paris although that is a monumental task,it will not be complete by any stretch,of the imagination,so my video yesterday ended here at the,notre dame cathedral,it was a unedited,video walking from the pantheon,a 27 minute long video,and so it is a,20 something minute long walk there,i was kind of doing a roundabout roof,but uh i decided that i would start this,video by showing some of the places i,showed in that video,i didnt do any talking so i didnt,explain anything,and so i thought that i would,show a few of those sites and talk a bit,about them,and then continue on from here and show,much more of incredible paris,another perspective of the notre dame,[Music],from a,lovely little park,and a not so lovely statue,not sure what it is depicting here but,uh,very,strange interesting,dark,themed,images of,people who i cant really tell if,theyre,in love or,in hate or,in sickness or what,[Music],and here we have a,greek catholic church,constructed in the 13th century around,the same time as the notre dame,so i have a mission,before i head for the pantheon,lets see if the mission can be,completed,ill explain what it is,either way it goes well see,saint julien nepal,eglise church greece,greek catholic,[Music],so yesterday i walked,along that church there,but,going this way for now,so mission not,accomplished you can see there,holland,bike tours and rentals,there is supposed to be right there my,phone is a little bit confused right now,i am on this street here rue,lagrange you can see,rue lagrange or lagrange,and no bicycle rental,shop,it seems to be indicating,right there,so perhaps there was one there,before,so it looks like i might be,walking today which is not a bad,thing,now,i uh tried to,find another rental place for bicycles,earlier closer to my hotel,i plugged in bicycle rental into google,maps and it showed something very close,by i walked over there but it was not a,bicycle rental shop,it was the city bicycles,which you see,all over paris,and so i tried to,figure out how to rent them,using my uh qr lens on the qr code,and it was all in french,so i gave up,but uh there are bicycles to rent either,the city bikes or,bicycle rental shops but mostly what was,coming up was the,city bikes so,good luck figuring it out,you are here,there is the louvre,museum,the seine or sen river,the notre dame cathedral im going to,walk over to the,pantheon right there a six minute walk,and there i will begin my,review of,the city of paris there you go,the pantheon,its a bit of a shame that the weather,is not cooperating today for filming,yesterday it was brilliantly sunny,but it is winter,february 10th,all considering,it is not too bad it could be colder,here you can see these city bicycles,[Music],so,[Music],[Music],[Music],[Music],[Music],[Music],[Music],so pantheon is a greek word,meaning a temple to all of the many gods,the pantheon here was constructed in the,late 18th century,the pantheon was originally built as a,church dedicated to genevieve the patron,saint of paris,and they decided to instead turn it into,a mausoleum,housing the remains of distinguished,french citizens so victor hugo,is entombed here,author,of les miserables,and the hunchback of notre dame,i read les miserables,in 1990 when i was traveling in europe,including when i was in paris here,absolutely incredible book highly,recommend it,the rain is,coming down if you saw the video from,yesterday then you will have noticed,there were many people gathered here,sitting eating in the square,a little tip what not to do do not eat,on the other side of that fence i made,that mistake,i bought some quiche in a shop over,there and then saw all the people eating,and walked in and was eating on the,stairs there,and a,security guard came out and said you,cant eat here so,you can,eat your quiche,right out in front though,and so uh,my review of paris,as i continue this,tour in the rain,paris is,almost inarguably,the greatest city in the world,theres just no comparison,even compared to the other greatest,cities of,rome and london,absolutely incredible,places to explore filled with history,and art and culture,and yet,this being my fifth time to paris,there is just so much to see and it is,not a city of attractions of course,there are many many attractions,but it is not a place where,in order to experience its greatness,then you have to go to this,site and this site and this tourist,place,you can just walk the streets,and it is endlessly fascinating,more than you can,possibly explore in a lifetime or three,each block just has,these quaint shops and,lovely restaurants,and then of course the grandeur of,the real monuments of the,notre dame and the louvre and,the arc de triomphe,of course the eiffel tower,it is a city of the,quaint the detail,of the small neighborhoods and also the,largeness the,grandeur,the vastness of,just how much there is to see here,it is a intimidating city,in various ways,in terms of,just trying to,experience it capture it get the,feel of it,in the course of a visit here if it is a,brief visit of a few days or even a week,and it is also,so very,french,that,[Music],as a non-french and non-french-speaking,person,it can be challenging to,explore and,try to experience without speaking the,language,when i went to buy the tickets for the,metro,i walked up to the uh,attendant,by the entrance into the metro station,there,and said to him bonjour,so hello do you speak english,and he said no french,now that will not be the case everywhere,you go many people do speak english,where i bought the quiche,then i went in and,said bonjour and,pointed at the quiche that i wanted and,she picked up that i dont speak french,and started speaking english and she,spoke it very well,same at my hotel,and of course the info,desks etc,the president of france emmanuel macron,so the ticket for the pantheon was 1150,euros thats about 13 or so,and then i mentioned trying to buy a,ticket at the metro there,i ended up buying six tickets for,11 40 euros,for all six tickets,so about two dollars each,for the metro ticket,my room which i showed at the beginning,is,definitely one of the best deals in,paris,pretty much the cheapest place that i,could find,on,booking.com when looking at hotels,before coming,that was also,quite nice,clean quiet,very small,but,as i showed at the very beginning there,200 euros,is what it showed on the door,that would be,like 230 something dollars,but it is,winter and so i got the low season price,much more reasonable,so it looks like were coming up upon,the river seine,lets see where we ended up,im looking for a bridge,a bridge of,importance to,the city of paris and also to me,personally,i will explain why,im sure some of you know,okay that is not it there,i think it might be a little ways that,way,here it is,quite a sight,i think that that is the lube right,there,you can see downtown paris down there,cant see the eiffel tower yet,we will definitely see it in the course,of this video,so the bridge im looking for is the,next one up this way,everywhere you go just monumental,buildings,looks like a basilica,also everywhere you go,there seem to be sirens,wow what a,this incredible building the institute,de france,so theres the,bridge going over a little island right,there,speaking of victor hugo,to the best of my recollection,i finished the book,r

Jeffrey Eugenides’s First Time

its an interesting thing about about,literary voices is once you get it its,sort of dictates the novel it tells you,what the novel is going to be about and,it puts you in touch with the world,youre writing about sometimes you feel,an expansion of knowledge as though,suddenly you know this place and its,because of the voice thats the only,time when writing verges on being a,little bit mystical is when you get a,literary voice and you feel the kind of,vadik connection and suddenly youre,able to write something that you didnt,think you could write before the rest of,writing is very pedestrian and and,difficult and you know either athletic,or arduous but but getting the voice,sometimes you feel this brief moment of,being sort of swept away and thats that,was very much the case with the Virgin,Suicides,I was home visiting my my brother in,Grosse Pointe Michigan and started,talking to his babysitter the babysitter,eek for my nephew and she told me that,she had tried to commit suicide and all,her sisters had I dont know why she,divulged this to me but she did so I was,I was curious about it I tried to ask,her some questions about why and she she,couldnt say anything she just said we,were under a lot of pressure so you know,the book started as many books do with,the kind of question and curiosity about,something that seemed unlikely and,amazing but you had no idea how it ever,came to pass I remember writing a bit of,it crew actually a cruise down the Nile,I hope this is true and Im not making,this up I went on a small cruise on the,Nile and I wrote the beginning of of the,Virgin Suicides,on on that trip two things came together,with writing the book first I had the,idea of no group of sisters who,committed suicide but I didnt have the,point of view and the idea that it was,going to be told by a larger,consciousness the first-person plural,voice and and thats what I get or they,came up with when I was on the on the,nile cruise and I wrote the first the,first sentence or so and that was the,that was the beginning I didnt really,know if it would be a novel I didnt,know if it would be published I hadnt,published anything before Id written a,couple of aborted novels so I was used,to them flaming out and I was you know,ready for that to happen again,I didnt I didnt realize until many,years after writing The Virgin Suicides,why I wrote why I wrote the Virgin,suicide I think psychologically,emotionally the real influence was the,experience of growing up in Detroit when,I was growing up the city was becoming,depopulated there were the riots all the,buildings were falling into decay,theyre closed up there were you know,burned out my grandfathers bar was,torched and burned so growing up there,you just saw things giving in to entropy,it left in me as a sense of Evanescence,that things are impermanent and you know,the story of these girls who died so,young the way that their disappearance,haunts the the narrator of the book,thats really the Fiat the way I feel,about about Detroit and growing up there,I wrote two hours every night and then,on the weekends however its been four,hours each book that you put you write,you swim a long way from the pier at a,certain point you just dont know whats,going to happen and I guess if I learned,anything come with the Virgin Suicides I,just learned that if you if you keep,going youll youll figure out how how,to shape the thing I lost my job in the,middle of writing the book so I had,certain practical you know reasons to,finish this book I think I might have,just learned a little bit more about,about perseverance,I got the title very very early I think,I had it almost simultaneous with the,first paragraph with your first book you,dont want to name it like Joe Bascom,you know something like that or like,read you just that you dont want it,because no one knows who you are you,gotta at least have a title that someone,would say what is that even if they,dont like it it didnt you know youre,right you you dont feel any different,when youre when youre writing because,you published a book you dont feel any,more confident you always kind of end,with a feeling of dissatisfaction of,what youve done what what can you do,next Don DeLillo said once that your,first book is kind of a gift you write,it you dont know how you how you wrote,it it just kind of comes out and its,the second book where you teach yourself,to be a writer I think thats true you,write your first book in a great state,of innocence,youre not anxious about it you you,dont expect that anyones going to like,it read it or that it will be published,youre just doing it because this is,what you want to do and so youre youre,ignorant of the publishing process,youre not thinking someone will review,it theres nothing its its very its,very nice yeah I I try to get back in,that state of mind when Im writing now,its difficult but it is that it is the,most pure and blissful state of writing,is is in total and anonymity just but,something that youre doing because you,want to do it

J. Robert Lennons First Time

you know I didnt expect everyone to,like my book when it was published but I,didnt think it would make people mad,but I have since learned that sometimes,people dont just dont not like your,work they they consider it an offense,this is in the days when Amazon was kind,of a new thing and as a first-time,novelist I thought it would be fun to,read what people had said about my book,I dont read it I kind of read any,reviews anymore but definitely not am,fun ones but one of them said that it,was like an MFA exercise it read like an,MFA exercise and that really hurt,because it actually was an MFA exercise,I was giving myself an MFA graduate,student and exercise on how to write a,goddamn novel,I was in graduate school and I knew I,wanted to write a novel Ive always kind,of had a taste for long projects of,other kinds but up until that point as a,writer Id only tried short stories or,thats not quite true I did write a,novel but it was really bad and I didnt,do anything with it but I enjoy the,experience of writing it even though it,didnt work out so I wanted to write a,novel that I hope would be my first,published novel I got this idea just I,think watching a plane fly overhead,while walking across campus and Id,gotten this idea about a guy surviving a,plane crash and no one knowing it at the,time it was as ambitious a book as I,think I was capable of writing in those,days I was much less confident in the,process so I I made it was about 25,single spaced page outline so that,everyday when I sat down I knew exactly,what I was going to write it didnt,leave a lot of room for inspiration I,suppose but inspiration isnt,trustworthy anyway,so so yeah if the book seems a little,schematic thats why its because I in,fact had a schematic that I was that I,was working off of and I was writing on,this brother word processor with a,detachable keyboard and the integral,Daisy wheel clattering Daisy wheel,printer when it printed it would be,clackity clackity can I get a cog in the,cottage cause it kinda guy hes like and,it would take a really long time to,print out anything and I think it took,about eight months to write the first,draft I sent query letter thats the,literary agents and one of them told me,to go ahead and send it when it was,finished so I did and she represented me,and and sold the book,I remember seeing the book cover for the,first time and its a really nice book,cover I thought it fit the book really,well it wasnt anything that I could,have imagined on my own and it was,eye-catching in the bookstore I think,thats the first time it felt like a,real thing you know when I saw what it,was going to look like to other people,who were seeing it for the first time,you know and back to the future when the,father gets his box of science fiction,novels and opens it up and everyones,very happy its like I wanted that,moment you know and it does come you,know that the you do get the box of,books and there they are but youve seen,so many gradual iterations of it up to,that point its more like well there it,is pretty much just what I was expecting,you know and by that time if youre,lucky youre on to another project that,is sort of commanding your attention so,that catharsis that one might hope for,if one is fantasizing about writing and,publishing a novel never happens but the,the pleasures that you do get at least,in my experience are are deeper and more,more satisfying and that the process is,deeply pleasurable for me but once its,out in the open once the ones that the,book is in the hands of other people,its its its frightening and,eliminating one thing I didnt expect is,that even positive reviews would make me,feel terrible about myself just but you,know the the feeling of being seen and,talked about is both flattering and,horrifying but the work you do comes,from a particular place in yourself and,it means certain things to you and,people are never gonna get that so even,if they like it theres this sense that,theyre liking it wrong and you cant,say out loud no no youre liking my book,wrong you know thank you for the glowing,review however Im very disappointed in,your interpretation of my work theres a,little part of myself that feels that,way even with a positive review and its,a rare one that really gets at what was,interesting to me about the book of,course ultimately,it doesnt matter whats interesting to,me about the book there was a hope that,I could write a best-seller no one ever,said that to me but I think that was the,expectation and of course like almost,everyone else it didnt pan out my,careers panned out fine but I think,that you know the book I think sold,about 80,000 copies and they thought,okay thats a really great first effort,and next time is gonna be half a million,but next time was actually about ten,thousand,your first book is the thing that your,entire life has gone up to creating and,then all you do from then on is just do,that again over and over in different,ways in retrospect I vastly prefer this,phase of my career where I know I can do,this thing,its a pleasure I dont feel like things,are gonna fall apart if I dont do it,perfectly the first time,the thing I always tell my students is,your your your your novel is always,perfect until you write the first,sentence and then its ruined forever,but think I think the key is accepting,that the thing you actually get is its,own thing,you cant preemptively decide upon the,correct way for your book to be you have,to kind of discover it I actually have,all the letters rejecting the book from,other publishers dial press says the,novel seemed a bit uneven to me,HarperCollins,several of my colleagues felt the book,was not as compelling as theyd hoped,Simon and Schuster good luck finding a,home for it elsewhere,his Doubleday said the story just wasnt,sticking to my ribs,Random House this doesnt seem to be my,music,FSG while it clearly has Commercial,Appeal it simply failed this drag of,personal chord,you

Helen DeWitt’s First Time

I had spent seven years trying to write,various first novels and by this time I,had I dont know maybe a hundred and,finished novels I was in my late,thirties I was working as a legal,secretary and finally I just thought you,know I I just have to quit and write,till my money runs out and not have a,job or anything Im going to sit down on,day one and do nothing but work on this,book and Im going to finish it in a,month and then I will have a finished,book and see it doesnt matter what,happens then you know I mean maybe it,will get published or maybe it wont but,it will be finished and then I can go on,and get on with my life yeah that was,that was that that was that was the plan,[Music],my father called and he started her,ragging me and saying well you know you,dont think theres any hope and just,kind of really shouting at me after this,phone conversation I just thought you,know we dont pick our parents if we,could pick Im sure I would have picked,better than you I know what would happen,what would happen if you could pick what,would it take to make interesting,decisions or interesting mistakes I,suddenly thought well you know junior,smil was we start Greek at the age of,three I mean he had an extremely,challenging early education I think what,would happen if you had a single mother,and who tried out the principles of j/s,Mill and then I dont know I thought of,course I was seven samurai you know what,if the mother would use Seven Samurai to,provide role models for her fatherless,boy he doesnt know what his father is,to begin with hes going to imagine a,hero and imagine that he can prepare to,meet him what if he meets him and hes a,disappointment he can go out and look,for a better father than one fate,provided he can go out and test people,its getting quite involved in this and,at the time it seemed like this,breakthrough there was this complete,change and I felt change in quality and,I was writing very fast I would write,one chapter in three days Id read,another chapter in two days but I would,look at them afterwards you know I would,look and I would think you know this is,this is the real thing we dont actually,see the real thing very often and so,its going to be alright because now I,know what I need to do the real thing,which is just to have absolute,uninterrupted time and complete focus on,the work unfortunately,I did not finish that book in the,allotted month technically it was going,to be a very difficult book to get into,print because it had Greek had Japanese,Old Norse you know like pages full of,numbers there were just all sorts of,different things in that book it would,be very challenging,my agent send me off for meetings with,editors and I would think that we were,going to talk about how they would give,me some money so I could concentrate on,finishing the book and they would all be,very surprised by this and what they,instead they would offer unsolicited,advice my view was you know book,benefits from the undivided attention of,its author then this turned out to be a,scandalous I mean it wasnt even,scandalous it was so outrageous a point,of view that it didnt even cross,anyones mind that one might think that,obviously what you needed was guidance,the difficulty was that different people,liked different parts of the book and so,each person would feel that with some,assistance I could be helped to make the,whole book like the part that they liked,or maybe we could just get rid of all,the parts they didnt like and just keep,what they liked you know I had really,thought this was my make-or-break book,and I would have a clear answer by the,end of September 1995 and instead I was,just mired down in this unending just,mess and going crazy,you know Miramax I mean they had a big,success,with a book at Frankfurt suddenly near,publishers up and down Europe were,clamoring to get their hands on this,manuscript actual copies were being,passed from hand to hand and people,would be sitting up in their hotel rooms,laughing out loud and meeting out great,bits to other people and then I get the,proof so you know the galleys the copier,just kind of went through whiting out my,markup you know shes just made hundreds,of gratuitous changes all these people,off in the world are getting very,excited but Im just sort of walking up,and down howling you had these people,committed to the disempowerment of the,author you know at every single stage,every time I thought that I had finally,drawn a line there would be some new,problem and it just it went on too long,[Music],when you complain about things and,publishing industry people always tell,you its a business and its like well,thats capitalism but the thing is I,mean a lot of the things that happen,cant wholly be accounted for by the,mirror logic of Finance I would go to,talk to people about the things I would,you know wanted to do it the way that,you could use data visualization in a,book or I would talk about the,difficulties of getting Greek and,Japanese into the Last Samurai be really,great to work with an editor whos,interested in the technical side where,you you know somebody whos actually,interested in sorting these things out,to the benefit of the book and and but,see people just say but you know no no,no editors are interested in the,technical side youre not gonna get it,no no no and and they would feel and,they would be quite exasperated you know,it wasnt like oh this is a really,exciting thing to do it was well you,know really if you want to do that you,should probably publish yourself which,seemed like such an indictment of the,industry I guess its a cup its a,culture with strong path dependencies I,guess what I would say and so a lot of,things are done because they are,developments from things that were done,in the past and you know was left to,well to hope things get better I guess,[Music],you,[Music]

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