A writer of fantasy, fairy tale, or myth must inevitably discover that he is not writing out of his own knowledge or experience, but out of something both deeper and wider. I think that fantasy must possess the author and simply use him. I know that this is true of A Wrinkle in Time. I can't possibly tell you how I came to write it. It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice. And it was only after it was written that I realized what some of it meant.
– Madeleine L'Engle, Horn Book interview, date unknown
– John Lennon, Playboy interview, November 1980
– Lynda Barry, The Onion's A-V Club interview, December 1999
With Gerald's Game, it was like an unplanned pregnancy. I was on an airplane . . . and I fell asleep. I had a dream with something salvageable in it, and I said, "Oh, that's wonderful, what a great idea." I wanted to start writing it, not because I had a whole story but because it was one of these situations that's so interesting you figure if you start on it, things will suggest themselves.
It's like seeing a building and saying to yourself: "I'd like to go in and walk through there." And in some cases there's nothing inside; it's just an interesting front. But in this case there was a lot of stuff inside.
WD: C. B. Forester, the British writer, once described his story-developing process as dropping assorted objects into the water of his subconscious and letting them sit there for weeks or months or years. Eventually, he said, he would feel them merge and meld and take some sort of shape until an idea surfaced and he could start writing. How does that process work for you?
SK: That's about it. The best work that I've ever done always has a feeling of having been excavated. I don't feel like a novelist or a creative writer as much as I feel like an archaeologist who is digging things up and brushing them off and looking at the carvings on them. Sometimes you get a little pot out of the ground, and that's a short story. Sometimes you get a bigger pot, which is a novella. Sometimes you get a building, which is like a novel. When I feel like I'm "creating," I'm usually doing bad work.
The thing is, for me, I never get all that stuff out unbroken. The trick and the game and the fun of it is to see how much of it you can get. Usually you can get quite a lot . . . In the case of The Dark Tower, it's like excavating this huge buried city that's down there. And I'll never live to do it all . . .
Sometimes the stuff just shows up at the right time. Sometimes when you're writing, you say to yourself: "Well, I know what's gonna happen for the next 30 pages, but after that I'm fucked." Then an idea appears and it's like a door opens and somebody ambles in and says: "You called for me." And you say: "I don't remember it, but come on in and help me because this is where you're supposed to be, you fit right in here today. Thank you for coming." And that's it.
– Stephen King, Writer's Digest interview, March 1992
– Marjorie M. Liu, "Writing Tiger Eye", 2005
I think I must have looked at them for a long time. Westley lay dead by The Machine. He was perfect and beautiful but it hadn't made him conceited. He understood suffering and was no stranger to love or pain, yet the words were still there.
Westley lay dead by The Machine.
You killed him, I thought. You killed Westley. How could you do such a thing? I stared at the words, and I stared at the words some more, and then I lost it, began to cry. I was alone, you see, no one could help me get out of where I was and I was helpless. Even now, more than twenty years after, I can still truly feel the shocking heat of my tears. I pushed away from my desk, made it to the bathroom and ran water on my face. I looked up and there in the mirror this red-faced and wracked person was staring back at me, wondering who in the world were we and how were we going to survive? . . . And if you were to ask me the high point of my creative life, I would say it was that day when Westley and I were joined.
– William Goldman, Which Lie Did I Tell? More Adventures in the Screen Trade, 2000
Not Joan [of Arc]. But there is a connection. The high when you're flying with a scene rolling out like it's alive – that euphoria is worth putting up with the detractors and distractions. It's like an all-nighter when you can't get enough of each other, you and the characters, and no one wants to sleep again ever, and it's already all there . . . just listen.
– Pamela Douglas, "Muse-ings: Hearing Voices" [article in Writers Guild of America Written By newsletter], November 1995
Sure, you have to work hard and sometimes slave over a book, to shape it, or let it out, get it out, into the world, but the origin of it was "given." The theologian Elaine Pagels told me her own struggles to write those marvelously illuminating books of hers (The Gnostic Gospels, Adam and Eve and the Serpent) she had the feeling that the work, the book, was already "there," but all these boulders were in the way of it. Writing, for her, seems not so much a matter of "creating" or inventing the book, but of "getting to it," around and over and through those boulders blocking the way.
– Dan Wakefield, Expect a Miracle: The Extraordinary Things That Happen to Ordinary People, 1995
– Jonathan Carroll, Outside the Dog Museum [novel], 1992
– Aaron Siddall, MySpace page, 2007
But it is easy to doubt yourself, because you look around at a community of notions held by other writers, other intellectuals, and they make you blush with guilt. Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.
But, you see, my stories have led me through my life. They shout, I follow. They run up and bite me on the leg – I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go, and runs off.
– Ray Bradbury, The Stories of Ray Bradbury [introduction], 1980
"Make them do as you want them to," she said.
"I can't," mourned Anne. "Averil is such an unmanageable heroine. She will do and say things I never meant her to. Then that spoils everything that went before and I have to write it all over again."
– L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island [novel], 1915
For a writer, this is a state of grace.
– Joseph Dougherty, thirtysomething stories [introduction], 1991