Do you spend your days sweating blood over a laptop, working on a novel or poem or screenplay that always seems to fall short of the brilliant version that is in your head? Are you terrified that if you don’t squeeze out a first novel that will instantly make you the toast of the New York literary establishment you will be an abject failure? Do you feel compelled to work on a book but are still plagued with the slow corrosive drip of doubt? Well, take heart. Everyone feels like that when he or she starts out.
The Paris Review, one of the most important literary magazines around, made its name with long, in-depth interviews with literary figures. Now they are launching a video series called “My First Time,” where they interview authors, cartoonists and playwrights about the beginning of their careers.
“This is a chance to see how successful authors got their start, in their own words,” as the Paris Review’s Dan Piepenbring writes. “It’s a portrait of the artist as a beginner and a look at the creative process, in all its joy, abjection, delusion, and euphoria.”
It’s strangely comforting to watch these people talk about struggling with all the psychological crap that confronts anyone who has the audacity to try to create. They succeeded. Maybe you can too.
Above is the trailer for the series and lower down are interviews with author J. Robert Lennon, cartoonist Gabrielle Bell and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
The Paris Review Interviews Now Online
Ray Bradbury Gives 12 Pieces of Writing Advice to Young Authors (2001)
H.P. Lovecraft Highlights the 20 “Types of Mistakes” Young Writers Make
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.
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