Lighting the torch
Interviewer: At what point do you feel comfortable giving drafts to other people to read?
Eugenides: Extremely late. Years and years go by without anyone seeing anything. I want my mistakes to become obvious to me before anyone else has to suffer reading them, so I never feel the need to show anything for a long time…But I don’t know if it’s the most effective way to work. I think I’m so scared the book is going to be bad that I don’t want anyone to see it until I’ve fixed everything that can be fixed. And you can keep fixing things ad infinitum.
Interviewer: How much revising do you do in proofs?
Eugenides: Usually I’m turning the book in at the last minute. I always say it’s like the Greek Olympics—“Hope the torch lights.”