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Tom Bissell talks about the role of luck in “making it” as a writer in this interview in Salon:

…our lives are subject to so many freak accidents and so many completely random occurrences that to be lucky enough to be able to work as a professional writer and get paid for it, and to think that you got there just because you’re so wonderful, that confidence will eventually just make you lazy and uninteresting.

He also talks about the tragedy of Melville’s later years, and names complacency and alcohol as the writer’s two worst enemies. An interesting interview.


David Foster Wallace at microphone

If you… succumb to the idea that the audience is too stupid, then there are two pitfalls… the avant-garde pitfall, where you have the idea that you’re writing for other writers… (or) crass, cynical, commercial pieces… done in a formulaic way…

…these two sides both come out of the same thing… contempt for the reader… The project that’s worth trying is to do stuff that has some of the richness… of avant-garde literary stuff, stuff that makes the reader confront things rather than ignore them, but to do that… in a way that it’s also pleasurable to read.

— from Salon