Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Coffee, Franzen, Paris Review Inteview

FRANZEN: The writing process for that flashback was different from any process before or since, and it really changed my idea of what I was doing as a novelist. I’d quit cigarettes a month earlier, and as a result I was drinking tons of coffee. I’d get up in the morning and drink so much coffee that I made myself almost sick. Then I’d have to lie down and take a hard nap, which I could suddenly do because I was in better contact with my natural body rhythms. Instead of having a cigarette when I was feeling sleepy, why not just lie down and sleep? For the first time in my life, I could take these wonderful, intense twenty-minute naps. But then, because I was so loaded up with caffeine, I would come surging back up to the surface and go straight to the desk and write a page. And that was it for the day.

INTERVIEWER: Just one page?

FRANZEN: A page was enough, by then. If you read the biographies of people who have written good books, you often see the point where they suddenly come into themselves, and those weeks in the spring of 1997 were when I came into myself as a writer. They feel like some of the best weeks of writing I’ll ever have. The discovery that I could write better about something as trivial as an ordinary family dinner than I could about the exploding prison population of the United States, and the corporatization of American life, and all the other things I’d been trying to do, was a real revelation.

-Paris Review