Lee Gutkind on immersion journalism

From an interview with nonfiction guru Gutkind conducted by Eric Parker for Fresno Famous—

“[I]mmersions are so wonderful in that you walk into an immersion havinggutkind an idea, idea A, but by the time you’ve spent three months or six months, you have a new idea, or a different formulation of your idea. Then, if you spend another year or two, your idea sophisticates and focuses even more. So, it’s a constant balancing challenge to make sure that you are giving the subject the proper attention.”

“Sometimes learning about a subject through the eyes of the writer can work. But more often than not, the most successful immersions are done with writers who are not egocentric. John McPhee, who’s someone I really admire, did this book called The Curve of Binding Energy, and it’s 65,000 words—my book is about 75,000 words [referring to his most recent book, Almost Human: Making Robots Think]—but McPhee always brags that he wrote this 65,000-word book and it took him until his 35,000th word before he used the word ‘I’ in relation to himself. It took that long for him to be important in the story.”

“[G]reatness takes great, massive, continuous failure in order to succeed. So, writing a book for six years is nothing. And even though it’s filled with five and a half years of frustration, you need to continue to apply yourself. I’m not sure I’m an incredibly talented human being, but I think that one of the reasons I’ve been successful is because I just decided to never give up and to always go onward.”

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1 Comment

Filed under creative nonfiction, honesty, immersion, journalism, NOTED, research

One response to “Lee Gutkind on immersion journalism

  1. John

    Very inspirational. Thank you.