Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.
I think I write and publish as often as I do because I can't bear being without a book to work on... I don't feel I have this to say or that to say or this story to tell, but I know I want to be occupied with the writing process while I'm living.
You write differently in each book. It may appear to be similar to readers, but you're a different writer in each book because you haven't approached that subject before. And every subject brings out a different prose strain in you. Fundamentally, yes, you're contained as one writer. But you have various voices. Like a good actor.
I have no desire to write fiction. I did what I did, and it's done. There's more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date.
With the draft, everybody was involved. Everybody was fodder. When you got to be 21, 22 and graduated from college, for two years your life stopped. If you had been running in the direction of your life, you had to stop and do this other thing which was, if not menacing, just plain boring.
That's what you're looking for as a writer when you're working. You're looking for your own freedom. To lose your inhibition to delve deep into your memory and experiences and life and then to find the prose that will persuade the reader.
Let me tell you about the nap. It's absolutely fantastic. When I was a kid, my father was always trying to tell me how to be a man. And he said - I was maybe nine - he said, 'Philip, whenever you take a nap, take your clothes off and put a blanket over you, and you're going to sleep better.' Well, as with everything, he was right.
For me, the passing of time has provided me with subjects I never had before. Subjects I can now look at from a historical perspective. Like the anti-communist era in America. I lived through that. I was a boy; I didn't find a way to write about it until many years later. The same with the Vietnam War.
At night, I read. I read for two hours. I just finished a marvelous book by Louise Erdrich, 'The Round House.' But mostly I read 20th-century history and biography. I lived then. I was either a child or at school or at work.
My goal would be to find a big, fat subject that would occupy me to the end of my life, and when I finish it, I'll die. What's agony is starting; I hate starting them. I just want to keep writing now and end when it ends.