I chose Joyce Carol Oates’ interview because we are going to be reading a piece of hers for class this week and because I’ve read some of her works in the past, for class or otherwise. Something about her words and the topics she chooses to write about are truly haunting, and they stick with a person for a while. I really wanted to hear what the woman behind these chilling stories had to say about who she is. According to the interviewer, JCO “felt that only by writing out her replies could she say precisely what she wished to,” and I can sort of relate to that because I think writing is generally a more eloquent and precise way to express myself.
Anyway, I found the interview extremely fascinating. JCO mentions that the mood she writes in is irrelevant, and that “somehow the activity of writing changes everything.” I have felt this with writing and reading. Regardless of the mindset you are in when you begin either act, if you are paying attention, you become submerged in the mood of the work. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t matter how I feel when I start writing because the act itself and the nature of the piece makes that initial feeling irrelevant. Suddenly, it’s only the writing or the reading that exists.
She mentioned that she forced herself to write novel after novel in high school, and I found that really impressive and surprising. I could barely write those timed, in-class essays and here she was writing full-length books (plural). She claims it’s lucky that she threw those original experiments out, but I think it’s just amazing that she was able to write so much at such a young age. She mentions how short stories are “bliss” compared to novels, and yet, she prefers to write novels. Something about focusing on a project and revising it and immersing herself in it appealed to JCO. I think it’s commendable and inspiring that she has the drive to take on such difficult projects.
And despite the diverse expanse of her work, I thought it was comical that she said she spends an inordinate amount of time doing nothing. In regards to her piano-playing abilities, she called herself an “enthusiastic amateur.” She seems to be pretty self-deprecating and relatable. Also, it’s cool that she’s never done any drugs.