Friday, November 02, 2012

Elizabeth Gilbert, Interviewed

The author of Eat, Pray, Love sits down with the Rumpus.

From the piece...

Rumpus: Was it always easy for you? Did writing come easily for you?

Gilbert: It came pleasurably. Not necessarily easily. And every time I transferred into doing something I’d never done before, like the first time I wrote a journalistic story for SPIN—“Buckle Bunnies,” about the groupies of the rodeo circuit—there were tears. I remember sitting in a bathtub in Texas, in a Motel 6, just crying because I was so intimidated. I didn’t know how to do it. I hadn’t gone to journalism school. I had talked my way into them sending me on the assignment; I had convinced them that I could do it, and I didn’t know if I could. I didn’t know how to interview people, I didn’t know how to take notes, I didn’t know how to use a microphone—I still don’t really know how to use a microphone—so I’d just take notes and I thought I would get in trouble. I just didn’t know how to do it. And I just learned, I guess. I remember going to the first rodeo bar in Houston and sitting out in the Avis rental car and just being fucking terrified to go in there, and just daring myself. Okay you have to do this. What’s your alternative, to go back to SPIN and say, I’m really sorry, I was too shy to talk to anyone? They bought you a plane ticket. You have to do it. I would not let myself leave. It’s so hard to approach people. I wouldn’t let myself leave a situation until I’d spoken to five people. I was making these sales goals, almost.

But even when writing is hard, I still find it so interesting. It keeps my attention in a way that nothing else ever has. It’s not easy, but it’s so fun when it works. And it’s so fun trying to solve the puzzle of how to make it work. And it’s so interesting when it doesn’t work, because then you look at your failure and you’re like, Well, I wonder why that didn’t work. You do an autopsy on it and try to figure out what it choked on. Nothing has ever kept my interest as much.

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