Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tom Robbins' writing process

"When he starts a novel, it works like this. First
he writes a sentence. Then he rewrites it again and
again, examining each word, making sure of its
perfection, finely honing each phrase until it
reverberates with the subtle texture of the infinite.
Sometimes it takes hours. Sometimes an entire day is
devoted to one sentence, which gets marked on and
expanded upon in every possible direction until he is
satisfied. Then, and only then, does he add a period.
Next, he rereads the first sentence and starts
writing a second, rewriting it again and again until
it shimmers. Then, and only then, does he add a
period. While working on each sentence, he has no idea
what the next sentence is going to be, much less the
next chapter or the end of the book. All thoughts of
where he is going or where he has been are banished.
Each sentence is a Zen universe unto itself, and while
working on it, nothing exists but the sentence. He
keeps writing in such a manner until he eventually
reaches a sentence which he works on like all the
others. He adds a period and the book is done. No
editing or revising in any way. When you read a Tom
Robbins book, you are experiencing the words not only
in the exact order that he wrote them but almost in
the exact order that he thought them. "


patrick said...

I followed the link and the entire article is definitely worth a read. Thanks for posting it. Like Michael Dare, I find it hard to even fathom working in this fashion. I'm just not someone who writes perfect prose in the first draft. I'm deep into draft number 3 of my new novel, and just turned the first 35 pages into the first 20, and it feels like I've finally found my way.

It's probably not good for too many beginning writers to hear about how Tom Robbins works, because then they'll think that every word that drip onto paper is perfect and never in need of revision. Still, I guess it would be nice if it worked that way.

Adam said...

Well, it sounds like he spends a couple hours on each sentence...I would never do that either.

I got to get back to writing that first novel. It is so hard. so much harder than I thought it would be when we met for coffee.

00100 said...

Tom Robbins...the guy who talks about sex a lot.

aisha said...

Awesome issues here. I’m very happy to peer your article.
Thanks you so much and I’m looking ahead to touch you.