When I was a kid, my great aunt Claire gave me a ring. This was right before she died. She told me the ring was magic, and it would make me great at something. The trick was I wouldn’t know what that thing was until I found it for myself. The ring had made her a great painter–one of her pieces is hanging in a White House bathroom on the second floor–so I tried painting. I tried lots of things. Theremin. Speed skating. French cooking. Sumo wrestling. (I was better at this last than I care to admit.) But none of those were “it.” Writing is one more thing I found in that search. It’s not the thing I’ve been looking for, but it gives me a way to share all the experiences I’ve had trying to figure out what this ring does. (Remind me to tell you about my animal jiujitsu classes sometime; I’ll show you how to arm-bar an elephant.)
Not at all. It’s as easy as it always was to jump right into a book and lose myself. I don’t even see the page. I’ve heard a lot of writers later in their careers say it’s difficult for them to enjoy reading because they find themselves analyzing the sentence structure, identifying passive voice, adverbs in dialogue attribution, unnecessary applications of the subjunctive mood. But I’m not like that at all. I don’t even analyze story. I just give the author my complete trust and let them tell me their story in their way. As a result, I enjoy reading pretty much anything. Except nonfiction; I’m not sure what a fiction writer is supposed to gather from all that.
I want a Hugo. It’s a key, and I know where the door is. Shhhh.
I don’t. That sounds really stressful. I do what the Dalai Lama refers to as “cyclical living.” I do one thing for a while, then switch to another. For example, I typically spend four months a year working at the installation up north. (The less you know, the better.) That usually gives me enough to live on for the other eight months of the year. I visit my family, but I don’t stay long. Kids are exhausting. (I’d much rather be at the installation, which is saying something.) I take some time to write three months or so a year. The rest of the time I’m pretty much traveling around, trying things, taking lessons, occasionally wondering if aunt Claire was full of shit about this ring. Well, I kind of need to cut this short; I’m late for my tantric sex lesson. Fingers crossed this is the one!