Yvonne Carts-Powell

Interview with John McPhee

In beautiful, writing on November 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I’ve told people, only partly in jest, that when I grow up as a science writer, I’m going to write like John McPhee. (In truth, I know won’t, but I sure wish I could write like him). He has a beautiful sense of structure, of choosing the right detail, and of describing people. I’ve happily given McPhee’s books as presents to the readers in my life, and some of the non-readers, too. (In fact, why not buy some books now, for holiday presents? You could get some of McPhee’s books. Or one of mine.)

Patricia Limerick interviewed John McPhee, and Jeanne Erdmann and Siri Carpenter posted a transcript at The Open Notebook. Among other things, he talks about writers block:

Writing is a suspension of life. I believe that so-called writer’s block is something that any writer is going to experience every day, but in a minor way. You break through some kind of membrane, and then you go into another world. Time really goes fast in there, but it is hard as can be to get there, and it frightens me. It frightens Joan Didion. She talks about the “low dread” she feels looking across the room at the door of her study. When she’s sitting somewhere, not writing, and she looks and sees that door, she experiences the low dread. Oh boy, do I know what that means. Getting past it is just a daily thing.

Read the whole interview: John McPhee on characters, structure, titles, and facing the ‘low dread’ of writing.

Image from: http://www.theopennotebook.com/2011/11/08/john-mcphee/


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