Writing a book or two changes everything. The best thing anyone ever told me about writing a book is that whatever anyone tells you about it will be their experience, and your experience is going to be different and it’s going to be yours. That’s important to remember, I think. Having said that, people ask a lot of questions about writing a book. Or have a lot of assumptions about writing a book. It’s a weird life to navigate sometimes. And most of the interviews you read or do just end up kind of sounding like living the dream. Because that’s what interviews need to sound like most of the time. Nobody wants too sober of an interview from someone who is doing something the readers themselves might want to do, right? One time a guy was writing a piece in The Times about writers on the storytelling scene and he got in touch with me and I gave him seven or eight honest quotes about how hard people work and how long it had taken them to break through, and he said he probably wouldn’t use any of those quotes because he was working on more of a ‘step up, tell your story, get a book deal or HBO series’ type of piece. Which I understood; people want to read about you living the dream. And in fairness, some days you are, and that’s pretty cool. Some days your phone rings and you’re flying business class half way around the world. Some days you’re reviewed from Belfast to Berlin, to New York and London, Los Angeles, and a bunch of places in between. Some days you put $50,000 or $60,000 in your checking account then head to the airport to be gone doing really amazing stuff for a month. I think I just covered three days right there; there are 362 more in the year. And there are usually at least a couple of years between books. And maybe on some of those days you wake up to go to a studio or conference room to work a freelance gig so you can keep your bills paid while you figure out what’s next. In 2009, I got the phone call that my HBO pilot based on my 2008 book wasn’t going to get picked up for series; I got that call in an editing room where I was producing a paper towel commercial. At least I had blown the last of my HBO money on a kitchen instead of vodka and strippers like the old days! It’s a charmed and lucky life, and these are luxury problems, to be sure, but writing has got some weird fixes and narrow spots in the road if you’re not one of the five or ten people on top of the charts in sales. And you never read much about that! – or at least I haven’t. But here’s an interview with Neal Pollack that’s as honest and bold as it is well-adjusted. Super refreshing, not to mention somehow charming, and above all, hard-won. And remember what I said, your experience with writing will be your own. —D.K.
Neal Pollack at The Onion AV Club: http://avc.lu/10PSyum (via )