Nick Kazan’s pearls of wisdom

This is one of my favorite interviews in this series. Kazan (At Close Range, Reversal of Fortune) has a real grasp on the inner workings of the writer. Here he talks about how he started writing and his process. One of my favorite quotes:

“I have learned through making mistakes over and over again that if I reach a point where a tiny bell goes off that I might be going in the wrong direction, to stop. It’s very painful to stop but if you don’t stop, you’re going to reach the end, you’re going to hear that bell a little louder, you’re going to realize you have a very substantial problem and then you’re going to have to amputate a limb. And in my experience, it’s like when people talk about amputees, you know, if somebody had a third arm and you cut it off, they’re always going to feel the third arm. If you have a real probem and you build it into the fabric of your piece, people are going to sense it.”

As a writer who will try everything in my power to “make it work”, this is a HUGE lesson for me. Listen to the bell early on. Don’t try to force in a cool/clever/brilliant idea that isn’t working. Let it go. Find another one that naturally, easily works. And do this before it’s too late.