“I get up every day and go to work like anyone else.”
Every once in a while, I come across an interview with a writer that seems not just helpful, but hard-hitting. Since writing often seems like such a nebulous calling, it’s good to hear from someone who’s successful, but grounded. Mark Winegardner teaches creative writing and is the author of several well-received novels in his own right. But his biggest claim to fame thus far is that he was selected by Random House and Mario Puzo’s family to write The Godfather Returns, the sequel to the outrageously successful book, The Godfather, which spent three years on bestseller lists, racked up more than 20 million in sales, and gave rise to three movies by Francis Ford Coppola.
In an interview in Writer’s Digest, Mark shared some of his views on writing:
“I used a Puzo device — the magisterial omniscient voice ties the books together. It’s something he copped from his literary hero, Dostoevsky. I tried to be true to that voice to make things add up stylistically. Also, there are certain allusions and turns of phrases from the original that I employed. It’s the focus on the velocity of the story that stays true to Puzo’s manic storytelling style.”
“No good writer sits around waiting to be inspired. If you’re at your station, inspiration will find you.”
“…if you’re not reading 200 to 300 novels for every one you try to write, you might as well forget it. It’s been said that ‘writers are readers moved to emulation,’ and I certainly believe in that. There’s nothing even a great writing teacher can teach you that you’re not also going to have to work out in your reading.”
“Too many writers, when they start out, are focused on being published. But being published is a byproduct of being good. If you’re writing good books, and you stay at it, talent will win out.”
I love the way Mark embraced Puzo’s style in his sequel and what he says about writers being “readers moved to emulation” — I know that’s true for me. And his comment about doing good work and talent winning out if you just stay with it — now that should spur us all forward. Write on!