My Archival Wanderings: Gay Talese

Hi Writers,
Here’s a very recent entry to the WD archives, excerpted from one of my favorite interviewees of all time—Gay Talese. This is from an interview I conducted with Talese and it appeared in the August 2006 issue of Writer’s Digest.

If you were a young journalist starting out today, what would you be doing?
Well, I’d be doing what I’m doing, which is to try to write really well and trust that there are people who appreciate writing that’s very well done. My father, who was a craftsman with a needle and thread, said, “If you do good work, you’ll find that there are people who are going to support it.” Now, you’re not going to get rich necessarily; I mean, maybe you will, but if you’re a craftsman or an artist, you may not be recognized right away. But there are going to be enough people around who are going to appreciate the craft, who are going to appreciate quality work. So if you make a beautiful pair of shoes, a beautiful dress, a beautiful painting, there are some people who are going to have the eye and discernment to say, “Ah, this is quality work.” They’re going to buy it and appreciate it. They’re going to tell you they understand why you took the time, because it’s worth it to do quality work.

Keep Writing,

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4 thoughts on “My Archival Wanderings: Gay Talese

  1. :Donna

    I love the post from Olivia 🙂 I know that made you smile, Maria!

    As far as Gay’s opinion: it’s true, but generally, if you’re putting out high quality work, only people that can afford it will buy it, so the "not getting rich" part is very true. That’s why the phrase "starving artists" came about. I think this is an inspirational perspective for those writing for that reason — the quality (I would think we’re talking "novels") and the select group who will recognize, appreciate and be willing to pay for it. And if your work is appealing to the masses, hopefully the masses will eventually have it in their hands 🙂
    : Donna

  2. Kurt L. Hanson

    Writing for Popular Mechanics is a different style than for National Geographic, and this different than the style employed by one at The New Yorker. One style of writing is from one who probably wants to get a beer out of the ‘frig and turn on the baseball game at the end of the day. Another builds model airplanes. Another enjoys the classics.

    Quality work sometimes isn’t applicable too. You don’t want to go out and buy the best three hundred dollar battery for your five hundred dollar jalopy.

    I’ve exhausted my writing thoughts at the moment. And I have to get back to my manuscript.


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