Just chillin' behind a tiny copse of trees across from the International House, sharin' a bag of Haze and rappin' with a Chicago Maroon reporter about writing and shit.
On access to the President of the United State:
CM: How much time have you spent with him?DB: Since he became president I've probably met with him 25, 30 times. They’re off-the-record meetings with some regularity
On the nearly-unbearable pressure of having to produce 1600 words of tepid revisionism (Every! Week!) on whatever subject he chooses, except for the weeks when he is on vacation, or "book leave", or whatever...
CM: You have to write a column twice a week. Is there something about that pressure that affects the way you go about your everyday life? Do you always have to have a certain type of reaction to the news?DB: Every second is, ‘Can I get a column out of this? Can I get a column out of that?’ There’s no second when you’re not thinking about that. That’s seven days a week. It’s a constant lookout....CM: Is there something about always having to form opinions in the op-ed column format that’s changed your general outlook on politics and society?DB: I’m less happy. I’m always anxious that I’m not going to have something to write about next time. There’s a lot more anxiety. And after the opinion comes out, there’s always the incoming criticism. That took some getting used to
On what it's like to be read every day by millions of people around the world:
CM: Are you constantly aware of how large your audience is?DB: You feel that. You can’t think about that. You write to one person. You write to interest yourself. Whoever you are, you write to a specific reader…Whoever the people are out there—I don’t know them, so they can make of it what they can. I can’t control their reaction because I don’t know who they are.
On how David Brooks is plotting to steal your children --
DB: ... The people you hope to influence are outside of power—younger people. It’s like being a teacher. There’s a good phrase: that writing provides a context in which other people can think. You’re really not trying to tell them what to think—you’re trying to give them a context in which they can have a discussion with themselves about a subject.
-- thus confirming my theories about Mr. Brooks' Revisionist Long Game:
...and thousand more!
On how people like me who undertake to blog, punditize, podcast or otherwise critique the work of David Brooks need to understand that every bit of what we do falls on deaf ears:
CM: Back to your columns. Do you ever read comments on your work?DB: Stuff comes to my email. I’ll occasionally look at comments, and then you get some feedback just organically. I never Google my name; I never look too much at the blog commentary; I don’t look at the comments too much. It’s too psychologically damaging.CM: Have you actually been seriously affected by responses to your columns?DB: In the first six months on the job I was going through everything. Most of it is harshly critical, so it was debilitating. I stopped.
On the why people other than David Brooks (and Tom Friedman and Richard Cohen and Maureen Dowd and Jennifer Rubin and Peggy Noonan, and George Will and Cokie Robert and so forth) actually need to be competent writers of things that people want to read if they want to turn a buck at this game:
DB: ...Getting the structure right is super important. The other thing is that unlike in college, no one is paid to read your writing, so you better be reasonably compelling or else they’ll just click off to something else.
*Thanks for the catch, D.