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William Faulkner on reading his writing, inspiration, violence and starting as a writer

Our twitter feed (HT @EleanorWachtel) alerted us to this gem from the literary magazine The Paris Review 
It is an excerpt of an interview with William Faulkner by Jean Stein in 1956. (Bold emphasis added).

INTERVIEWER

Some people say they can't understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

FAULKNER

Read it four times.

INTERVIEWER

You mentioned experience, observation, and imagination as being important for the writer. Would you include inspiration?

FAULKNER

I don't know anything about inspiration because I don't know what inspiration is—I've heard about it, but I never saw it.

INTERVIEWER

As a writer you are said to be obsessed with violence.

FAULKNER

That's like saying the carpenter is obsessed with his hammer. Violence is simply one of the carpenter's tools. The writer can no more build with one tool than the carpenter can.

INTERVIEWER

Can you say how you started as a writer?

FAULKNER

I was living in New Orleans, doing whatever kind of work was necessary to earn a little money now and then. I met Sherwood Anderson. We would walk about the city in the afternoon and talk to people. In the evenings we would meet again and sit over a bottle or two while he talked and I listened. In the forenoon I would never see him. He was secluded, working. The next day we would repeat. I decided that if that was the life of a writer, then becoming a writer was the thing for me. So I began to write my first book. At once I found that writing was fun. I even forgot that I hadn't seen Mr. Anderson for three weeks until he walked in my door, the first time he ever came to see me, and said, “What's wrong? Are you mad at me?” I told him I was writing a book. He said, “My God,” and walked out. When I finished the book—it was Soldier's Pay—I met Mrs. Anderson on the street. She asked how the book was going, and I said I'd finished it. She said, “Sherwood says that he will make a trade with you. If he doesn't have to read your manuscript he will tell his publisher to accept it.” I said, “Done,” and that's how I became a writer.

You can read the rest of the interview with the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature winner here.

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