Becoming a writer -- Junot Diaz

Oprah published a good article by Junot Diaz on becoming a writer. (I admit it, I have NOT read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao but I’ve read a bunch of interviews/articles referencing that it took him ten years to write/rewrite the book. Ten years.)

Read this excerpt; then read the whole article.

That’s my tale in a nutshell. Not the tale of how I came to write my novel but rather of how I became a writer. Because, in truth, I didn’t become a writer the first time I put pen to paper or when I finished my first book (easy) or my second one (hard). You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. Wasn’t until that night when I was faced with all those lousy pages that I realized, really realized, what it was exactly that I am.

12 comments to Becoming a writer — Junot Diaz

  • Aaaaaah, I love this. Ten years! This whole excerpt gives me hope. 🙂 Thanks for posting it!

  • Bone chilling how much I relate to this. Especially “In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway”.

    What I find amazing about writing, is, no matter what the experience we share these common threads. We are more than family — we are a community of writers.

    • Nancy

      We are indeed. And that is, as Martha Stewart would say, A Good Thing. 🙂

    • DITTO, DS. I sooo related to this, too. I think I even posted on your page today about how I couldn’t stop now if I wanted. Writing is like food and water, I need it. Stopping would be like cutting off my right arm.
      It’s scary to think about…
      This article brought tears to my eyes. I could almost taste how bad he wanted it–needed it. Goosebumps.
      Thanks for sharing, Natasha, you always find the most interesting things.

      • Nancy

        He only alluded to it in this article, but elsewhere I read that the whole long drawn-out thing of writing is what tore up his relationship with his ex.

  • I read the complete article and will definitely be reading the book. Boy, did he go through hell or what to complete that book!!?? The saddest part is that he still wasn’t happy enough to smile for his picture even after winning the Pulitzer Prize.

    • Nancy

      Well, Shaddy, please report back in when you’ve read it. I’ll be interested in what you think. And for God’s sake, when YOU win the Pulitzer, either smile or wear the cowgirl hat!

  • Wow – that’s enough to make me stop now before its too late! Luckily I don’t have anything that is even close to 75 pages long yet! Good or not!!
    Think I will just continue to plug along, minus high expectations, so I can be pleasantly suprised if something turns out to be good enough.

  • Serendipity strikes again! I can’t tell you how much I needed to read that quote you cited. I’ve been questioning my sanity lately. “Why am I still writing?” Now I know. Thank you.

    • Nancy

      You’re welcome, Linda. And thanks for visiting my blog. Yeah, I think we need these reminders every so often to let us know we’re not alone and we’re not crazy (well, maybe we’re crazy — but it’s good crazy. I think.)

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