Laini Taylor has an excellent post on an appearance by Markus Zusak at a high school in her area. Among the juiciest bits:
Zusak says that there were many writing students who were better than he was when he was in college, but he doesn't think any of them are still writing. Laini says she's had a similar experience as an art student. I've often wondered, myself, if perhaps the finest, most talented writers in the world were never published simply because they gave up. Laini describes the perseverance that keeps some people going while others quit as motivation or vocation. I've always liked the expression fire in the belly.
Zusak also described how many times he rewrote the first 90 pages of The Book Thief and how at the 250 page point he realized something was wrong, fixed it, and rewrote the whole thing again. For those of us who have trouble getting through a first draft without all kinds of stops and starts, reading that was very comforting.