Literary Birthday – 1 July – Blake Bailey

Happy Birthday, Blake Bailey, born 1 July 1963.

Three Quotes

  1. What I’ve learned, above all, about the creative process via my work on Yates and Cheever is (a) that it’s a lot of damn hard work and (b) that it’s dismally underpaid.  Will I write more fiction?  Absolutely, but I need to sell one of these biographies to the movies first.
  2. Every day, after breakfast, I take a highlight pen and go over three single-spaced pages of meticulous (though I say it myself) notes, which almost invariably translate into just under two double-spaced pages of finished prose. Around 9:30 a.m. I sit at my desk and dither at email, twitter, and whatnot for maybe 45 minutes or more, until I thoroughly hate myself, and finally begin writing. After lunch, I resume until 4:00 or 5:00—however long it takes to squeeze out those two pages. I don’t allow myself to get up until the two pages are done.
  3. My advice to aspiring writers is hang in there, try different things, and maybe one day you’ll surprise yourself.

Must-read: Blake Bailey’s 5 Tips For Writers

Blake Bailey is an American writer who is known for his biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is a memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait. Follow him on Twitter: @BlakeBaileyOn

Image of the writer: By David Shankbone – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 1st July 2014