I interviewed Nell Zink, author of The Wallcreeper, for The Paris Review’s blog. It’s one short question from me, one long lovely answer from her. (That’s not the whole story, of course, but it makes for a good one.)
What kind of jobs have you had? Do you write full-time now, “living the dream”?
I was always a bit concerned about purity of essence. I never wanted a job that might affect the way I wrote or thought. I remember how in college I was very proud of having finagled a job in the English department, where I spent most of my time collating and stapling. I didn’t major in English, obviously, because I preferred being challenged in courses where I might get bad grades. Once, Gordon Lish came to speak there and warned us explicitly against going to work in publishing, because it forces you to read bad prose all day every day and spoils your style. After his talk, all the other student writers jumped up to beg him for jobs in publishing while I wandered off strengthened in my resolve to do manual labor.
Read the whole thing at The Paris Review: Purity of Essence: One Question for Nell Zink.