Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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David Mamet Visits Campus

Writer and director David Mamet visited campus in February to speak and meet with students in the James A. Michener Center for Writers and the departments of Radio-Television-Film, Theatre and Dance, and English. Amanda Tufano, intern for the Public Affairs department at the Ransom Center, interviews Mamet about what it means to have his life's work housed at the Ransom Center and what advice he has for young writers.

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AMANDA TUFANO: What does it mean to you that your life's work is housed here in the Ransom Center?

DAVID MAMET: Well, I think all artists harbor this delusion that somewhere down the line, someone is going to look back and say, 'You know, I loved his or her work, but as I look at what they went through, I even appreciate it more.' So this is aiding me in that delusion.

AMANDA TUFANO: What made you decide to keep all of the various drafts of your work? Did you have a sense that they would one day be important?

DAVID MAMET: No, not at all. It just never occurred to me to throw them away. And I think that has something to do with, they always gave me a sense of security as I was working on a project, and I had a draft typed out, and I had the draft all marked up. It was physical evidence that I had actually done some work and that if I had done that work, maybe I could do something...that I was a worthwhile person. So I guess maybe that's what I thought about accumulating all of these drafts in all of these notebooks.

AMANDA TUFANO: What has it been like to work with students on campus this week?

DAVID MAMET: It's been great. I mean, I say I always know when my time with them is done because I look up and they're angry, confused, resentful, and bored. So, of course, I spent too many years teaching college, and so, I like to talk a lot, and I like to interest people in all of my theories and all of my bombastic thoughts and prejudices and my iconoclasm. You know, it's great to be indulged in that for a few days. And then I'm going to go home today and feel very, very ashamed of myself.

AMANDA TUFANO: With that, do you have any advice for young screenwriters and writers just getting started?

DAVID MAMET: Yeah, keep writing. I mean, that's the only place you can, the only two things you need to do to become a writer is, you need to read a lot; love to read. You need to write a lot and love to write, or hate to write as long as you write a lot.