EG: The punctuated alliteration is gorgeous — “preened and polished”; “matured” and “molded”. How much time would you spend on such a sentence?/eg
GT: Oh, I could spend days. Sometimes these phrases come to you and sometimes they’re terrible. Sometimes you think, “Maybe that’s okay” and you let it in. I throw a lot of stuff away.
EG: What percentage of what you write for any given story do you get rid of?
GT: More than half. Because it’s so easily the case that it’s turgid or overwritten.
EG: Do you throw away more now, now that you use a computer?
GT: I don’t think so. I’ve always thrown a lot away, even when I was working on daily deadlines for newspapers. That was really expensive because at the New York Times we were typing what they called a “book” — it had seven or eight pieces of carbon. A thick thing. If you threw it away, you were destroying 11 cents worth of, well, something.