Writing According To John Irving
Bestselling author John Irving told a Harvard audience yesterday that he would never think of using a word processor.
"If someone made a tool that would enhance the speed of writing a first draft, I would have 10 of them," Irving said. "But I want the process of revision to be as slow and messy as I can make it."
Irving, author of "The World According to Garp" and "The Hotel New Hampshire," also gave a sneak preview of his latest venture and fielded questions from the more than 40 people at the Lamont Library forum room.
"This is so new that I can't even tell you a title," Irving said about the book he is currently working on. "I don't have one."
He doesn't have a word processor, either, emphasizing the importance he places on prolonged revisions.
"I write very quickly and rewrite very slowly," Irving said.
He said it takes him about 18 months to figure out the plot of a new story, two more years to write it and another 18 months to revise it.
He said that once he starts writing an autobiography he cannot help slipping in embellishments. "The lie becomes more interesting than the autobiography," he said. "The lie becomes a new novel."
"The one thing I never know is how long the book is," Irving said, adding that he was not certain when his latest work would be finished.
Irving achieved national popularity in 1978 with "The World According to Garp," his first bestseller which became a blockbuster movie starring Robin Williams. His next novel, "The Hotel New Hampshire" also sold millions and made it to the silver screen.
"The Cider House Rules," his latest book, was released last year and was excerpted in MS. magazine.
The reading, one of a series sponsored by the Woodberry Poetry Room, was videotaped as part of the library's collection of authors reading their own works.