I think writing really helps you heal yourself. I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person. That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame.
For me, writing has always come out of living a fairly to-the-bone kind of life, just really being present to a lot of life. The writing has been really a byproduct of that.
I was brought up to try to see what was wrong and right it. Since I am a writer, writing is how I right it.
At Sarah Lawrence, I realized that everybody was already what they were going to be. The painters were painting, the writers writing, the dancers dancing. And nobody wore any makeup. The art was uppermost.
There’s an ecstatic side to writing. It’s like jazz. It just has a life.
I started writing as a child. But I didn’t think of myself actually writing until I was in college. And I had gone to Africa as a sophomore or something – no, maybe junior – and wrote a book of poems. And that was my beginning. I published that book.
My mother says I was writing before I was crawling. I wrote in the dirt with a twig.
But then I go through long periods where I don’t listen to things, usually when I’m working. In between the records and in between the writing I suck up books and music and movies and anything I can find.
Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.
I started out as a poet. I’ve always been a poet since I was 7 or 8. And so I feel myself to be fundamentally a poet who got into writing novels.