The Morning News - [Robert] Birnbaum v. Jim Harrison
JH: It’s just like young writers, of whom I am deluged—you have to be giving your entire life to this because that’s the only way it’s possible. This can’t be an avocation. It’s the whole thing. Or nothing.
RB: And what do they say?
JH: Most of them, that’s very intimidating. They really haven’t wanted to commit to it, to that extent. But they have to. It’s a strange thing—I didn’t want to understand it when I first read it but I was 19 or something—Dylan Thomas said in order to be a poet or a writer you have to be willing to fall on your face over and over and over. Everybody wants to be cool—
RB: You have to be willing?
JH: Yeah. Which is an interesting point, yeah.
RB: You have to know that that’s going to happen.
JH: You should. [both laugh]
RB: I may never get over Tibor Fischer’s story of having being rejected by 56 publishers.
JH: It happens doesn’t it? Portrait of the Artist went to 19. The old fun thing is when somebody typed up the first chapter of War and Peace. And then made a précis of the rest of it and sent it out and only one publisher recognized it.
RB: That does speak to the crapshoot nature of the enterprise.
JH: Yeah, somewhat. Persist, though, and it will happen