2.08.2005

Zadie Smith on Writing

"I think the writer’s responsibility is to tell the truth. The aim is to try and tell the truth — any kind of truth. It can be a very tiny truth. Truth means not that you read the book and think, "Ah, yes, I make a cup of tea exactly that way." It’s not that. It has to be truth without generalization, without cliche, and without simplification."

The interview is somewhat antagonistic, but there are a few other interesting ideas after the ice is broken.

I also thought these two separate interviews came up with an interesting contrast. From Random House:

Q. When you write the beginning of a novel, do you already have the ending in your head or does it only become clear after journeying with the characters?

A. Yes, I need to know what the end of the story is before I begin a novel. By the time I start to write the novel I don't want to still be inventing the story; I want to be thinking only about the language or the next sentence, and the sentence after that. The process of imagining a whole story takes a year or eighteen months. I always begin with who the characters are and how and when their paths cross and recross.


From Masterpiece Theatre:

White Teeth is such a vivacious, anarchic story. Did you know how it was going to end when you started it?

No, I don't think so. I just finished a short story and I don't always know the ending when I start. I know it up to the middle, and the rest of it is a bit like pedaling downhill. If you don't get panicked it's fine.


The ideas are not completely contradictory, but one wonders if it has to do with the interviewing technique--if the interviewer/ee feel at ease.