30 September 2012

On Writing and Being an International Correspondent, William Langewiesche

William Langewiesche - International Correspondent
of Vanity Fair

 (From Media Bistro´s interview with the American writer):

I, being young and naive myself, left my job and began to fly airplanes and to write, always writing. I wrote a bunch of stuff that was not published, and I continued to struggle. My goal was never to become a pilot. My goal was to, well, become exactly what I am now, interestingly enough. I failed at that for many years, but I was lucky because I had a skill which allowed me to stay dry when it rained.

I knew that there was this magazine world in New York, with lots of slick magazines, and I knew that I did not want write for those guys, so I never approached them. I thought I would rather fly airplanes than do that. I dont know why I had a strong aversion to it. I wanted to write serious stuff, long stuff, not fast stuff. I wanted to write with quality, both quality of thought and literary quality, and I knew I could not do that in that world.

One of the reasons my writing was not good enough when I was 25 years old was that my thinking was not good enough. One of the reasons my thinking was not good enough was that I was not old enough. I did not have enough experience. Why would a reader, a mature reader, an intelligent reader want to read the work of a 25-year-old at least on serious subjects? 

I try to understand what I´m seeing. There´s a stage I go through when I´m rubbing my eyes, and I can´t understand this world that I´m in now. I feel like I dont understand anything. I cant see anything. I start asking questions, and then I very much listen to people. I listen to people very carefully. When I´m on the ground, I´m working anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day.

Writing is thinking. Writing is a form of thought. 

The real work is not done in places like Kinshasa or on the ground. The real work is done outside. What you are doing on the ground is trying to provide yourself with the resources  necessary to think about the subject clearly later on.

For complete interview, here.

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