“My First Time” is a new video series in which we invite authors to discuss the trials of writing and publishing that first novel, that first play, that first book of poems. Consider it a chance to see how successful writers got their start, in their own words—it’s a portrait of the artist as a beginner and a look at the creative process, in all its joy, abjection, delusion, and euphoria.
We conclude our first installment today with Christine Schutt, whose first collection of stories, Nightwork, appeared in 1996, when she was forty-eight; John Ashbery said it was the best book of the year. Here, Schutt recalls her early attempts at writing, in her twenties, and the feedback she invariably received: “You can write very beautiful sentences and beautiful descriptions, but it may take you twenty years to figure out how to do a story … I thought, Twenty years, my god! I’d be in my forties!”
Be sure to watch the three other “My First Time” interviews we’ve posted this week:
- Branden Jacobs-Jenkins on his play, Neighbors
- Gabrielle Bell on The Book of … series, her early cartoons
- J. Robert Lennon on his debut novel, The Light of Falling Stars
Later this summer, we’ll introduce the next chapter in the series; this trailer gives a preview of what’s to come.
This series is made by the filmmakers Tom Bean, Casey Brooks, and Luke Poling; we’re delighted to collaborate with them.