Most days he woke up as early as 4 a.m. before going to teach English classes at 8 a.m.
"With writers block if you don't feel like writing then you don't," he said. "But the truth is, you can write no matter what and pull your material from your own obsessions and experiences, the emotions that you are most intimate with or experiences you're most obsessed with.
"...It's really hard to write for one hour and not come away with one line that is somehow significant. Not even good, just significant."
Pizzolatto took questions from DePauw University students and Greencastle residents at the Richard E. Peeler Center for the Arts Tuesday evening after reading excerpts from his noir novel "Galveston," which was released earlier this summer.
The story follows compassionate criminal Roy Cady, who on the same day he's diagnosed with lung cancer in 1987 flees New Orleans with Raquel Rocky Arceneaux, an 18-year-old with a troubled past from the inner city. The duo, along with Raquel's 3-year-old sister Tiffany, escape to Galveston for refuge.
The novel jumps ahead to September 2008 in the face of Hurricane Ike as Roy still struggles with coming to terms with his criminal past.
Pizzolatto said he took inspiration for the book's setting from thepost-graduate days he spent living in Austin, Texas. He said he didn't write the novel for himself; rather he wrote "a story he wanted to read" with the intention of drawing in a wide audience.
"I want (readers) to get whatever they want to out of it. I know what I want to take away from it, but that's not my aim" he said. "...I want them to believe in the characters and be moved by their humanity and maybe without expecting it get their heart broken."
Some DePauw faculty members have high praise for his work and the notoriety he's bringing to Greencastle and DePauw.
"He's been getting extremely good notice," DePauw director of media relations Ken Owen said. "It's great to see someone from DePauw and Greencastle making such an impact on the national stage."
Pizzolatto, author of the short story collection "Between Here and the Yellow Sea", has also been hired to write a pilot for HBO and has also been hired to write the screenplay of "Galveston" for director John Crowley, according to Pizzolatto's website.
His work has been reviewed by The New York Times and was recently honored with the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers distinction this year.
A Southern literary fiction writer, he has taught fiction and literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago and is currently an assistant professor at DePauw University.
Pizzolatto was scheduled to teach two courses this fall in addition to advising A Midwestern Review magazine. Other university faculty members filled the empty positions. He said he has plans to eventually continue teaching.