Robert Birnbaum interviews Tim Gautreaux, author of The Clearing and Welding with Children. Early in the interview, the author discusses the difficulty of writing a novel:
When you finish that first draft you know that you are at the beginning of a long, dark, smoky tunnel. And then, of course, there is second draft. And then you show it to your wife and then you have a third draft resulting from that. And then you send it off to your agent and there’s a fourth draft resulting from that. And then he sells it. And then there are fifth, sixth and seventh drafts that come from that and a couple of final polishes. And even after you cut it loose and you get back the first hard-back copy you are reading somewhere on page six and you say, “Oh I can’t believe that I put those two words that close together, etc.” So it’s never finished. And you never get the feeling like, “This is a grand masterpiece.” If it is, you certainly don’t know it. At least in my way of thinking. Somebody will tell you if it’s great.
Gautreaux says he’s wary of the label “Southern writer.” “If I had been born in North Dakota I would still be a writer,” he says.