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Ever promise yourself to read a certain author's work, but never got around to it?

I haven't yet kept my promise to read the work of Paul Auster, among America's most prolific writers.

Auster died on April 30; his obituary led me to an online trove of interviews he did on the craft of writing.

Auster wrote novels and memoirs, poetry and translations.

In a 2017 interview, he offered these observations:

"Writing a passage 10 or 15 times, going over and over and over, fixing the sentences, trying to hear the rhythm, until it looks like a piece of music — effortless, smooth — with the energy that I want: That's the work. The hard work is in trying to make it look easy."

Keeping what you write "swift and lean," he said, "propelling yourself. Every word counts; every comma is important."

Even for accomplished writers, writing is painstaking.

Including writers who like to write.

How about those who don't?

Gloria Steinem, the noted journalist who co-founded Ms. Magazine, said, "I do not like to write. I love having written."

When I coach writers, I tell them that the key to good writing is rewriting. We can't just toss off a draft and consider the job done.

Read aloud what you have written.

Find any errors? Does the rhythm sound smooth? Have you chosen the precise verb to nail the subject? Does every sentence end with impact, instead of sliding into sludge?

Writers work in different ways.

Auster wrote in longhand, hoping to produce a single page a day.

Then, when satisfied, he'd type it out.

Auster never planned to become a writer.

But when he was a kid, he ran into the great baseball player Willie Mays and asked for his autograph.

Mays agreed, but neither Paul, nor his father, nor Mays had a pencil, so Mays said, "Sorry, kid, no pencil, no autograph."

From that moment on, young Paul never went anywhere without a pencil; for the rest of his life, he noted everything interesting that he saw or heard.

Plenty wound up being published.

Gary Gilson can be reached through