Happy Birthday, Blake Bailey, born 1 July 1963
- What I’ve learned, above all, about the creative process via my work on Yates and Cheever is (a) that it’s a lot of damn hard work and (b) that it’s dismally underpaid. Will I write more fiction? Absolutely, but I need to sell one of these biographies to the movies first.
- Every day, after breakfast, I take a highlight pen and go over three single-spaced pages of meticulous (though I say it myself) notes, which almost invariably translate into just under two double-spaced pages of finished prose. Around 9:30 a.m. I sit at my desk and dither at email, twitter, and whatnot for maybe 45 minutes or more, until I thoroughly hate myself, and finally begin writing. After lunch, I resume until 4:00 or 5:00—however long it takes to squeeze out those two pages. I don’t allow myself to get up until the two pages are done.
- My advice to aspiring writers is hang in there, try different things, and maybe one day you’ll surprise yourself.
- Write about things that really interest you.
- Be quiet and listen.
- Action is character.
- Be prepared.
- If possible, be funny.
Blake Bailey is an American writer who is known for his biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is a memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait. Follow him on Twitter: @BlakeBaileyOn
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