Store Sign in Oviedo, Spain
Dan Fante, author of the novel, 86’d, spoke with Terry Gross after the novel last year. They spoke about Fante’s books, his writing style, and his relationship with his father, Hollywood screenwriter and author of Bukowski’s discovery, Ask the Dust. Fante told the Fresh Air host how he started writing when he lost everything again following an alcohol binge. “… I didn’t know what to do. So I started to write.”
After writing 31 pages of a novel in two years, he realized that he couldn’t write a novel. But he could write a page at a time. He didn’t care for the alcoholic’s 12 Steps but this much he learned from it. A sponsor had suggested to him a format for writing a “fourth step” inventory. He was “to write the story of his life an hour each day for 12 consecutive days at exactly the same time.” The sponsor ended up suggesting he work with another sponsor but Fante discovered his modus operandi for writing big works: structure and one page at a time.
I did go to sleep at midnight last night and got up at eight this morning. I wrote the whole morning. I still fantasize working would be easier at night when my mind’s censors are soporific and not totally on the job but I turned out better work this morning. It was certainly better than yesterday. I’ll go for a third morning tomorrow although it is premature to say I’ve learned structure and discipline. I think this will come only after I’ve done enough work to convince myself I am truly working. Nothing, as show biz people love to say, succeeds better than success.