Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Mark Kingwell wants to make the world a "thinkier" place

The author of Fail Better answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Mark Kingwell is the author of Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters. (The Varsity)

What happens when you mix baseball and philosophy? You get Mark Kingwell's latest work, Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters. The book combines personal anecdotes with reflections on life and failure through the lens of baseball.

Below, Mark Kingwell answers eight questions submitted by eight of his fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Gary Barwin asks, "Do you feel that you guide the writing or do you feel the writing guides you?"

I write nonfiction, much of it using arguments, so it had better be me in the driver's seat. Otherwise, it's a big pileup on the idea highway.

2. Beth Powning asks, "What part of the editing process do you find most difficult? Is there any part of it that you enjoy?"

I love being edited by someone who cares about making me look good; I hate being edited by someone who has their own ideas about what the writing should be. I enjoy copyediting — conversations about the smallest things, like whether there should be a comma or a semicolon in that last sentence. Or whether I should have use "such as" instead of "like" in that last sentence.

3. Michael Harris asks, "How do you care for your body while working on a book?"

I lift weights, go for long walks and take naps. And then maybe have a glass of wine or two later.

4. Durga Chew-Bose asks, "If you could have any view just outside the room where you write, what would it be?"

For many years I wrote with no outside view at all because my desk was an old rolltop. Now I write wherever I can. My ideal view might be the one out the window of a plane taking me somewhere fun.

5. Tomson Highway asks, "Do you ever get jealous of other writers? If so, why?"

I've always admired the honesty of Gore Vidal saying, "Every time a friend succeeds, something inside me dies." But I don't feel that way.

6. Johanna Skibsrud asks, "What non-literary inspirations inform your work?"

City streets. Baseball parks. Art galleries. Montana rivers.

7. Nazneen Sheikh asks, "Do you have set writing hours?"

Mornings for drafting, afternoons for revising.

8. Todd Babiak asks, "Do you want to change anything with your writing? Or do you simply want to entertain and stimulate as many people as possible?"

Like most philosophical writers, I want to make the world thinkier and better. Does that sound like Homer Simpson? More thinky and more good.


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