Jan. 4, 2011

Fuck you, Melville!

I spent ten years writing Oscar Wao, and I definitely didn’t spend the ten years being like, “I’m amazing! This has taken ten years because this much genius requires a decade!” [laughter] I spent the whole time, you know, fucked up, unhappy, really miserable and convinced that I’d ruined the whole thing, and all the stuff you get when you spend a really long time lost in the desert. I think more than anything, my basic lesson as an artist has been humility.… The crazy thing about the arts is it’s not like other stuff where you can build up muscle to help you with the next project. A friend of mine, he’s a surgeon, he’s like a combat surgeon in Iraq, and we grew up together and immigrated together, and he tells me every surgery makes you even more awesome for the next surgery. I’ve never felt that anything I’ve written has made me more awesome. So I think for me it’s going to be a struggle for whatever the next project is, and if you’re an artist and you work long enough at this, you begin to understand your rhythm, and what I’m beginning to understand is my rhythm is very slow. I felt like my first book was just an accident, but what I’m discovering now is that this is my rhythm. I take forever. Friends of mine hear this and they want to fucking throw themselves off a bridge, because the first ten years drove them crazy.… Melville wrote Moby-Dick — does anyone remember how many months it took him? Like fourteen months! Fuck you, Melville!

— Junot Díaz, interviewed by Dave Eggers in The Boston Review

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