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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

John Irving Chosen by Stories

According to novelist John Irving, a writer does not have the luxury of deciding on a story; the story chooses the writer.

"I've always felt my subject chooses me. Even if I don't like the subject, don't like what I'm writing about."

A few years ago I met John Irving at the National Book Festival. At that time, he offered his novel Until I Find You as a perfect example of story taking over.

"This novel, I didn't like writing. It was painful." But as Irving has said before, you don't put a story aside just because it makes you feel uncomfortable — a writer does not get to choose his obsessions. A story seeks out a writer, gets under his skin and insists on being written. "The subject chooses you."

Irving admits that the writer is not off the hook. Novels don't write themselves. "I choose the tone, the names, the language, the structure — but not the subject or the story. The story chooses the writer; the writer chooses the structure."

Have you been chosen by any interesting stories lately?

Learn more about Irving at the link below. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Irving

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