To say I’m utterly enamored by the Paris Review is an understatement. I read the interview with Jeffrey Eugenides because in high school I read his book Middlesex and loved it. I remembered how he interweaved many narratives in such an effortless way to write an incredible novel. It amazed me how he said he didn’t like to write in a beautiful space and preferred to be in “small cramped rooms with not much in them”. Very different from how I’d imagine a writer who creates such complex stories as he does. It also struck me that he had a writing schedule he stuck to. I suppose I don’t think about writing as a job and I don’t like making a schedule of when I write but every author is different.
Eugenides remarked about how much he rewrites and reworks sentences a lot. It was awesome to see how dedicated to producing quality work he is. It inspired me to want to be a better writer because oftentimes I find myself writing sentences once and hardly touching them again other than to fix grammatical errors.
I also fan-girled a little over how he answered the way he outlines his books because it is very similar to how I write.
“So I plunge in headlong, and after a while I get worried that I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going, so I begin to make a fuzzy outline, thinking about what might happen in the book or how I might structure it.”
Every time I write something with any sort of length I resort to this method of outlining. I like to begin with my own organic ideas and form it into a coherent structure when the time comes for me to have to. If I write with too much structure to begin with I feel constricted and like I can’t put my voice into whatever it is I’m writing, even if it’s a structure that I make for myself.
“Between the ages of twenty and thirty, I read with a voraciousness unmatched in any other decade of my life. I was trying to become less stupid.”
This is very much how I feel right now at 20. I have this idea that the more well read I am, the smarter I’ll be. I think it’s a bug that a lot of people get and I think there’s an air of truth behind being more knowledgeable the more you read.
“One last point—people often ask me why I chose to narrate a novel from the point of view of an intersex person, and my answer is, every novel should be narrated by an intersex person. The job of the novelist is to inhabit both male and female characters, so in a sense every novelist should possess a hermaphroditic imagination.”
I loved his point about writing from both gendered points of view. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever tried writing from a man’s point of view. I kind of only write from my own but the way Eugenides described embodying both genders and creating real characters through that embodiment was wholly intriguing and made me want to try.
“I have four or five novels, each about 120 pages in length. One is a satiric novel very much like the one you’re wondering if I would ever write.”
To me this is crazy! I can’t imagine having finished books just laying about. I admire that he hasn’t published them yet though because I imagine they’re not as great as he would’ve liked them to be yet.
Much of what Eugenides says about his writing is that he incorporates his real life experiences and sometimes experiences that aren’t his own. I find the amount of work he puts into his novels astounding and can only hope to write the way he does someday. Reading his interview and learning how he uses all of the different tools he does to create his literature really reminded me why I write and inspired me to keep writing the things I enjoy.