A lot of us grow up and we grow out of the literal interpretation that we get when we're children, but we bear the scars all our life. Whether they're scars of beauty or scars of ugliness, it's pretty much in the eye of the beholder.
I was in enough to get along with people. I was never socially inarticulate. Not a loner. And that saved my life, saved my sanity. That and the writing. But to this day I distrust anybody who thought school was a good time. Anybody.
I've always believed in God. I also think that's the sort of thing that either comes as part of the equipment, the capacity to believe, or at some point in your life, when you're in a position where you actually need help from a power greater than yourself, you simply make an agreement.
Americans are apocalyptic by nature. The reason why is that we've always had so much, so we live in deadly fear that people are going to take it away from us.
We like to think about how smart we are. But I think talent as a writer is hard-wired in, it's all there, at least the basic elements of it. You can't change it any more than you can choose whether to be right handed or left handed.
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.
What charitable 1 percenters can't do is assume responsibility - America's national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts.
I'm not a big fan of psychoanalysis: I think if you have mental problems what you need are good pills. But I do think that if you have thinks that bother you, things that are unresolved, the more that you talk about them, write about them, the less serious they become.
When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, 'Why god? Why me?' and the thundering voice of God answered, 'There's just something about you that pisses me off.'
People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on my desk.
And as a writer, one of the things that I've always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that's what we're supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.
But I think talent as a writer is hard-wired in, it's all there, at least the basic elements of it. You can't change it any more than you can choose whether to be right handed or left handed.
It's a mystery. That's the first thing that interests me about the idea of God. If there is one, it's mysterious and powerful and awesome to even consider the concept, and you have to take it seriously.
After the 9/11 apocalypse happened in New York City, people, particularly New Yorkers, who breathed in the ash, or saw the results of that, have a tendency to keep seeing echoes and having flashbacks to it.
The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings - words shrink things that seem timeless when they are in your head to no more than living size when they are brought out.
And poets, in my view, and I think the view of most people, do speak God's language - it's better, it's finer, it's language on a higher plane than ordinary people speak in their daily lives.
No, it's not a very good story - its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside.
I love the movies, and when I go to see a movie that's been made from one of my books, I know that it isn't going to be exactly like my novel because a lot of other people have interpreted it. But I also know it has an idea that I'll like because that idea occurred to me, and I spent a year, or a year and a half of my life working on it.
But I think there are a set of experiences that turn a potential writer into a working writer, and then there are places in your life were you start to recognize what you want to do.
That's something that is almost accidental at the beginning of a career, but the more you write, the more trained you are to recognize the little signals.