Q How much quicker do you think you would complete Zero History in a world without Twitter?
A Not faster, just differently. Twitter, or the Internet at large, feels to me like an automation of what I have to do, anyway, in order to write: Stare out window. Read a magazine. Gaze at shoe. Answer a letter. Think about something new (or newly). *Access random novelty.*
The writing worth keeping happens within a matrix of mysterious but crucially related activities. I might order myself to write for X number of hours per day (though in fact I never do) but the writing worth keeping can't be ordered to happen at all, let alone for X number of hours per day. It has to be teased out. Fed.
Q Do publishers place pressure on authors for X number of hours output per day, or are there just agreed, albeit flexible, deadlines?
A We do it from our homes, and we refuse to let them in, no matter how many times they knock. There's a contract, and a deadline for delivery of the completed manuscript. That's actually a really scary deal: a contract, and a deadline, and nobody there in the morning to tell you to get to work. Or to start gazing at your shoe.
Q I guess there's less pressure on established writers, whereas newbies are pushed harder? Time management: do you place yourself under a strict regime?
A The arrangement forces you to manage your own time. In the old days, in Hollywood, screenwriters in studio employ were contractually obligated to turn in a specific number of pages per day. There is nothing like that in the world of professional fiction-writing, and if there were, we wouldn't be having this conversation, because I'd never have been published.
I have to force myself to turn up every day, in case the writing also decides to. Often, it doesn't choose to. There is more of that at the start of a book than later, mercifully. The book builds its own momentum, though each one has a different momentum. That momentum is what calls the shots, imposes the regimen.
The part of me that's writing this, now, is utterly incapable of writing a novel. The part of me that just wrote a novel is profoundly unavailable, right now, and will remain so until the next time I have to go out and walk for miles, whistling for it, convinced its finally run away for good and all.
People don't ordinarily meet the part of me that writes novels, and when they do, they must assume I'm not not doing very well. Which as a human being, right then, I'm not. In direct proportion to how well I might be doing, right then, as a novelist.