Entitled to nothing

Dani Shapiro writing in the L.A. Times about the predicament of the writer, especially the young writer, in our turbulent age. Here is the direct link, here is an excerpt:

“Writing itself, if not misunderstood and abused, becomes a way of empowering the writing self. It converts anger and disappointment into deliberate and durable aggression, the writer’s main source of energy. It converts sorrow and self-pity into empathy, the writer’s main means of relating to otherness. Similarly, his wounded innocence turns into irony, his silliness into wit, his guilt into judgment, his oddness into originality, his perverseness into his stinger.”

The writer who has experienced this even for a moment becomes hooked on it and is willing to withstand the rest. Insecurity, rejection and disappointment are a price to pay, but those of us who have served our time in the frozen tundra will tell you that we’d do it all over again if we had to. And we do. Each time we sit down to create something, we are risking our whole selves. But when the result is the transformation of anger, disappointment, sorrow, self-pity, guilt, perverseness and wounded innocence into something deep and concrete and abiding — that is a personal and artistic triumph well worth the long and solitary trip.

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10 thoughts on “Entitled to nothing

  1. Well said! Writers are too often missunderstood. Art doesn’t need an explanation, either you get it or you don’t. So leave the poets alone everyone, do it better- if you think your can.

  2. Do you agree with this article, Marcel?

    I have to admit I just write because I have to. I quietly try to stop every so often and just as quietly one fine day I sit myself down and type out a few thousand words on one of my works in progress.

    I met some of the career writers he talks about recently. When I was 16 I coined a word for experiences like this: pukative.

    I don’t want to be like them, which makes me want to stop writing sometimes. But like I said, that’s easier said than done.

  3. Yes, I also write because I have to, but I’ve developed subtle and, uh, not-so-subtle tactics to keep me from writing in recent weeks. Or rather: I write, but I don’t type up or save.

  4. It could be that you’re tapering off – I know people who sort of phased out their creative outlets in their 20s – or it could be one of those fallow phases that precede a new fecundity. Depends on which you want it to be, really.

  5. I don’t have less creativity, I just decided not to write. I don’t think I have enough talent for it. I made a conscious decision to abstain.

  6. Well. I am sorry to go on about this.I’ve been wanting to ask you about this.

    It’s a little disheartening. At the risk of sounding very weak-willed I have been wondering if I should do the same. I often suspect as much.

    Anyway. On to other topics.

  7. “I only mean. It’s science fiction! If your science-fictional imagination is broken, you can rebuild it with imaginary high technology! If your writer’s soul is amputated, then because we are talking of science fiction you can fit it with a robotic prosthesis. You can write again, write better, stronger, as a cyborg!” (Adam Roberts)

  8. Yes. Wrote 2600 word review of his book that doesn’t make any sense. My proofreader is asleep and generally unwilling. SO it’s hibernating. Wanna read it?

    ALso, you’ve got real talent. I read your stuff. I’m an expert in literature and I tell you: you’re damn good. Work on it, keep writing. Don’t you dare stop!

  9. Yes please @ the Roberts review.

    I would like to lay claim to some expertise in literature too…perhaps you want to disallow that?

    Sometimes it really just is a question of letting your voice grown in silence and trying again later.

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