Marlon James Needs Noise to Write (and Other Revelations)
Paul Holdengraber in Conversation with the Man Booker Prize-Winner
In this episode, Paul Holdengraber talks to the writer Marlon James about why he hates the word inspiration, Joan Didion, staying in the present of a story, why writing is work, and why he can’t write in silence.
Marlon James on writing with traffic… I can’t write in silence. I grew up in a very busy, urban place. There was always noise. There was always traffic. There was always sound systems playing. Reggae blasting from everywhere. It’s the only time I feel comfortable. When I’m in my office writing, I open the windows just so I can hear traffic.”
Marlon James on writing as work… Writing is work for me. I just don’t have the luxury of waiting until the mood strikes. I don’t have the luxury of waiting until inspiration strikes. I also don’t believe that’s how ideas work. I think ideas hit you when you’re busy, when you are already in the process of discovering, or thinking, or creating, that’s what leads to creation.
Marlon James on literary hocus pocus… My advice to writers is stop being self-hating or self-loving and become self-curious. Look at writing as a mystery to solve. There’s a lot of mystifying going on when it comes to writers and writing. I think ultimately, it comes on to talent. But, I think a lot of it is just this literary hocus pocus that we all sort of spread around.