When I write a novel, I don’t necessarily plan it out, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But as I go, things occur to me and I note them down, on another piece of paper or in the margins, so that I’m going to get to that part. And that’s as much as I’m willing to do. I’ve never made an outline in my life.
I’ll say this much. I write in longhand. Then I reread it. As I reread it, I make changes. Those are two drafts. Then I move it to the typewriter. I still use a manual typewriter. On the typewriter it undergoes another change. Three drafts. Then I reread that. I make changes, by hand most of the time. Four drafts. Then I make a final copy, on the manual typewriter again. That’s the fifth draft. If you then include changes which might be made in galley proofs—that could be six, even seven drafts.
Now people write on computers, people work in different ways. I never even owned an electric typewriter. I didn’t like the hum; I didn’t like the idea of being plugged into the wall. I didn’t want the insistence of that. I don’t want the computer staring at me. To me it’s very tactile, writing is a physical event, it’s a physical activity. I like to hold the paper and the pencil or the pen. It’s corporeal. It’s a living being, the manuscript. I wouldn’t know what to do without it.
–Excerpted from an interview by Thomas A. McCarthy, included in The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room: A Barry Gifford Reader, June 30th–July 2nd, 2002