“I can consider many things that fill me up with writing—my sense of place and personal history, the uncountable wonderful books that have come before me, the love of language and all its sounds—but in the end I simply come to the act itself
“I read recently that if you were to add up the combined lengths of rootlets and root hairs of a single rye plant, the resulting length could stretch almost from the North to the South Pole
“What inspires me? Running. Because there’s nothing like having nothing except your own two feet, the sight of some far off point, and a hard breath to keep you going.
“Place is important to my writing, and one of my best practices is to get in the car and drive.
“When I’m stumped, I often go to the library stacks and look at old science treatises.
“When I push weights around, I push words around. I usually hit the gym in the afternoon, and when I do, I think about the story or chapter I was working on that morning.
“On a narrow strip of cork board, among news clippings and postcards, is a small vellum-colored paper square, printed by the artist Tom Ashcraft, that has inspired me for many years.
“As a rule of comedy combining something cute with something sinister is good for a laugh, and the logic is the same as the real-life behavior