Ann Patchett Talks About Work

“I’m very careful with my brain,”  Ann Patchett told the Pen & Podium crowd at the Newman Center last night, “I don’t multi task.”  What she does do is work at writing.  The author of Bel Canto which won the PEN/Faulkner and the Orange Prize for 2002, Patchett takes her writing seriously and applies her strong work ethic to it.

“The way I write is I get the whole thing set up in my head and then I write it.”  Patchett who wrote State of Wonder said “An idea comes into the universe and it looks for someone to write it.”  She says she often chats with other writers – here she mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert and Andre Dubus – and finds that each of them is working on a similar theme.  “Sometimes,” she said, “the idea has to look and look before it finds the right person to write it.”  And that brings up the question – do writers work at writing or are they inspired?  Patchett believes in the work of writing and her strong work ethic is obvious in the way she talks about her “job.”

“I’ve gotten better,” she told the crowd “at not being brutally disappointed between what’s in my mind and what I write.  I work at writing.  It’s a job – just like love.  You have to work at both of them.  You take it seriously and you work at it every day.  And the rewards make you happy.”  I was happy I was there to hear Ann Patchett.

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