The Three Rs: Lauren Groff

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today’s guest, Lauren Groff, is the author of the novels Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton, and a story collection called Delicate Edible Birds.

When did you first know you wanted to write books?

It sometimes seems that desire occurs only when there’s possibility. Writing books seemed like such a daunting task for most of my life that I didn’t realize that I wanted to write books until fairly late in life. I never met a writer until I was in college and had bought into the tormented-genius-in-garret myth, which I knew I wasn’t; and so, even though I always longed to publish a book, and wrote pretty much constantly since I learned how to write my ABC’s, I didn’t realize it was a possibility until I was in my twenties. Before then, I insisted I wanted to be a pediatrician.

What does your day look like while you’re writing a book?

I get up early with my children, go to the gym or to the pool, come home, have breakfast and make lunches, pack the big boy off to school, wait for the babysitter with the baby, head out to my studio, read some poems, realize I need more coffee, come in and make more coffee, go back out, take a nap, wake up, sit down in front of a blank page, stand up, walk a mile on the treadmill while reading some book to inspire me, sit down before the blank page, decide I’m too warm to sit down, take another nap, wake up, and let guilt drive me to the work again for the final three hours of the babysitter’s tenure until one in the afternoon. Then I eat lunch over email, Twitter, and my RSS feeds, and read until the baby is up from his nap, whereupon we go fetch the big boy from school, and I’m run ragged until they’re in bed at seven. Then, my husband and I eat dinner, we’re in bed by nine pm, we read our separate books, and at about 11, I get up because I’m an insomniac, sit down at my work, and do the best work of the day until I fall asleep on the page at about 1 am. Rinse and repeat.

Do you type or write?

I write longhand for the first two or three or four drafts, then transfer them to the computer. Writing by hand slows down my thoughts and connects me physically to my sentences in a way that writing on a computer cannot.

What do you read while you’re writing?

I try to read everything I can read. I start the day with poetry and end it with a novel, usually.

What have you read recently that you really loved?

I loved Open City by Teju Cole, Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, and Zazen by Vanessa Veselka.

What are your all-time favourites?

Middlemarch by George Eliot; Speak, Memory by Nabokov, The Lover by Marguerite Duras, Paradise Lost by John Milton, and a million more, which I will regret not mentioning.

You can either write or read for the rest of your life – but not both. Which do you choose?

Oh, tear my heart out. It’s too cruel to contemplate even for a second. I take the fifth.

What’s your third R, and why?

Gratitude. It’s the only way to get through frustration and rejection and difficulty with dignity and calm.

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