“You have to decide if you’re a writer or not. I’m a writer because I’m a writer. I can’t say it didn’t make any difference to me whether I was published or not, but I was rejected for ten years before I was ever published. Publishers would suggest ways I could make this more marketable, and I knew I couldn’t do that. I have to write honestly about what I’m doing, and most of those books that were rejected were later published—sometimes by the same publishers.
A lot of people ask me that question, “How can you do all you did and still write?” Well, how does an alcoholic drink and still hold down a job? That’s what you do. You have 3×5 cards in your pocket, and you’re stopped for a red light, and there’s a phrase and you’ve got it down. Or you’re sitting in an emergency room in the hospital, and it takes two hours before your patient is ready to see you, but you’re writing.
Writing is a vocation; it’s not just a way to get published. I knew from early on that I was a writer. I didn’t know what that meant.”