A Writer’s Flashback: My 2005 Interview with Author Andrei Codrescu
I interviewed author Andrei Codrescu, along with nearly 75 other creatives, for a motivational non-fiction book, How to Survive a Day Job. My intent with the book was simple: I would interview a number of successful writers, actors, and others who have worked in a given creative arts field, to motivate those of us who had not yet attained our own artistic career goals.
The original introduction to Andrei’s 2005 interview follows:
Born in Sibiu, Romania on December 20, 1946, Andrei Codrescu emigrated to the United States in 1966. A poet, teacher, essayist, screenwriter, best-selling novelist (The Blood Countess), and NPR commentator, Andrei presently edits Exquisite Corpse, a literary journal that can be viewed online at www.corpse.org.
Please visit www.corpse.org for current information on Mr. Codrescu.
Me: Was writing your first professional ambition?
Andrei: I didn’t want to be a writer. I just became one. When I was fourteen years old, a lonely kid in an old medieval town in Transylvania, Romania, I was kidnapped by ghosts and made a channel for stories. My only goal, then as now, was to get some people to listen to them.
It was not a linear journey. The then of the fourteen-year-old folded well into the now of the fifty-seven-year-old. At the core is wonder. The rest is just production and distribution. In fact, I may have been further along at fourteen, when I didn’t waste my time publishing and answering interviews.
Me: Have you held any unrelated day jobs?
Andrei: I delivered pizza for Giovanni in Old Town in Chicago. I worked in an art supply store in Detroit, and in a sweatshop in New York — but these jobs weren’t exactly “unrelated.” Getting fired from all of them was inspiring.
Me: Any advice to those, perhaps with families, perhaps not, who have the ambition yet by necessity work unrelated day jobs to survive?
Andrei: Forget the bills if you can’t write; don’t write if you can’t forget the bills.
Me: What is it about you that has enabled you to succeed where so many others have either given up or never attained their goal?
Andrei: Incompetence in any other area, luck, stupidity, and childishness.
I’m not sure I know what success is. I suspect that there is no such thing for a writer. There is some satisfaction in “completing” a work. Beyond that, it’s drudgery and misery.
The preceding questions and answers were submitted via email.
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