Mordecai Richler: “I am a compulsive rewriter.”

I first saw this video clip many years ago – I believe I was in junior high at the time.  I knew about Jacob Two-Two of course, but I hadn’t read any of Mordecai Richler’s other works.  I remember being fascinated by the writing room, by his description of the writing life and by the man himself.

I was writing short stories by then, but never dreamed that it could be a career.  Being an author was something someone else did – someone eccentric and brilliant, living in a far-away, exotic land.  (Yes, for the 12-year-old me, Montreal was both far-away and exotic.  Hell, anything beyond the overpass was far-away and exotic.)

Fast-forward thirty years and here I am … writing my first book.  My office is much like Mr. Richler’s – a little smaller and with less paper (doubtless that will change if my daughter ever stops using old chapter drafts for her papier-mâché or latest pastel drawing).  My hair is (sometimes) neater, and I compulsively rewrite every paragraph until it shines.

I used to fret that I was doing this “author thing” wrong … going too slowly, not writing the chapters in sequence, endlessly rewriting … and who knows, maybe I am.  But hey, it worked for Mordecai Richler.

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