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Curtis Sittenfeld: From 10 to 1 (More or Less)

Curtis Sittenfeld's first novel, Prep, was a bestseller. Her second, The Man of My Dreams, was published in May. A winner of the Seventeen magazine fiction contest in 1992, she has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Real Simple, and public radio's This American Life.

How she writes: "My goal is to write from 10 to 1 every day. This usually means I get started around 11:15, after checking email and various web sites. But I often write long past 1, eating lunch at 2 or 3. I try not to check email or answer the phone during this time, though I don't always succeed, as this very email shows!"

Writer's block remedy: "I don't really believe in it. There are times I'm not in the mood to write, but I'm wary of romanticizing that. If I'm moderately not in the mood, I'll reread what I've recently written to try to enter the fictional world, and I'll give myself a manageable, very specific assignment, like writing a particular scene. If I'm really not in the mood, I'll edit earlier work. If I'm really, really not in the mood, I'll go read fiction by someone else. I don't think it's shameful to admit that some days your time can be better spent reading than writing."

A Favorite Sentence: "'In 1954, the summer before I entered third grade, my grandmother mistook Andrew Imhof for a girl.' This is the first sentence of the novel I'm working on now, and I am not talking about the general subject of the novel at all, but there's the beginning -- which, eventually, I hope will lure people to read on!"

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Melody Joy Kramer
Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.