John Irving Writes the Last Sentence of the Story First

Posted on June 26, 2012

Time magazine photographer and videographer Shaul Schwarz spent a morning with John Irving at his home to get a feel for his daily routine. Most of the interviewer's excellent questions are cut out, and moody background music has been added. This gives the video an odd, surreal quality as we see Irving make his breakfast, read The New York Times, work out and discuss seemingly random subjects. But what Irving has to say is actually quite interesting -- and the cinematography is excellent.

He says about the news: "I don't think the news changes, so much as the way it's reported has changed." Irving has homes in Vermont and Toronto, but says he will always live in America saying, "I am an American writer and I'm not sure that I would be as in touch with my subjects if I lived somewhere else."

Irving writes by longhand and uses both sides of the paper. As for his creative process he reveals that by the time he was writing The Cider House Rules, he realized that he writes best when he starts with the ending of the story. He writes the last sentence of each story, then "writes toward that sentence." He says that approach never lets him down.

Irving is committed to physical fitness. He competed in wrestling for many years, and has a full gym in his house. He says he's in pretty good shape for a guy who's 70.

Irving is incredibly passionate about writing. He says he can't imagine being alive and not writing, not creating. He says he hopes that he will die at his desk doing what he loves. He says his intent is to write until the day he dies. Take a look: