Lahiri: I really can’t explain how I write, or what I’m thinking of consciously. I studied literature for so long, and was taught all of these things so deeply, all too well. I was trained to read stories, and to appreciate these elements, but when I write the stories I become a different person altogether. Everything goes out the window, and nothing applies in that sense.
Before I had my first child, I took Lamaze classes. They walk you through all of the things, and the experiences, and you practice, and you learn it in a sort of theoretical way. Then I remember the actual experience of giving birth, and nothing was registering at that point, you know? [Laughter] It wasn’t like at one point I could turn to my husband and say, “Oh, let’s do that thing that they taught us!” It was so purely in the moment of what was happening. In a way I feel like when I write, I’m just in that moment of writing, and none of the knowledge I have is able to penetrate.[Jhumpa Lahiri ]
One of the reasons why her stories flow so well is due to a simple technique called revising.
Lahiri: That’s really all I do. It’s all a process for me of continued revision. I worked on most of the stories in this book for several years. When I finished some, and I published some, along the way, then I considered them done, but I still worked on them for a considerable length of time, and the ones I didn’t publish, I continued to work on. Most of these stories were simmering for two to three years, minimum.[Jhumpa Lahiri ]