Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.
I work out four days a week in the off-season, and in the warm, running weather months, I do five days. A push/pull regime of weightlifting, cycling, and the occasional Saturday or Sunday run with my oldest son, even if it's cold out.
Most of the time I feel stupid, insensitive, mediocre, talentless and vulnerable - like I'm about to cry any second - and wrong. I've found that when that happens, it usually means I'm writing pretty well, pretty deeply, pretty rawly.
There are some beautiful books out there. But the ones that leave me cold are the ones where I feel - it's that postmodern thing - it's more experimentation with language than it is a deep compassionate falling into another human being's experience.
I truly believe the art's larger than the artist. Who cares about John Steinbeck? I care about the Joad family.
My dad and mom divorced when I was around ten, and I didn't live with him after that, though he was close by and we saw each other weekly. I wasn't really aware that he was a writer; I didn't start reading his writing until I was about fifteen. It occurred to me then that my dad was kind of special; he's still one of my favorite writers.
I've had a lot of glamour come my way in the last 10 years - you know, movie stars and mansions and red carpets and trips to Europe and crazy stuff I never would have imagined - and I look at them as if I'm the bartender in the corner of the room. They've never gone into my psyche. I look at them with distance, and wonder.
I really think that if there's any one enemy to human creativity, especially creative writing, its self-consciousness. And if you have one eye on the mirror to see how you're doing, you're not doing it as well as you can. Don't think about publishing, don't think about editors, don't think about marketplace.