Monday, January 29, 2007

Writers Need Risk

This article in yesterday's Observer intrigued me:

Rachel Cooke writes about a new collection of journlism, Risky Business: Books, Poker, Pastimes, People by poet and critic Al Alvarez who considers writing: ...
A solitary, joyless occupation ... For five or six days each week, I sit at my desk and try to get the sentences right. If I make a mistake, I can rewrite it the following day or the next or catch it in proof. And if I fail to do so, who cares? Who even notices?' Worse yet is the sense that, as Frederic Raphael once put it: 'Real men do things. They don't just write about them.'
Alvarez talks about the enjoyably symbiotic relationship between the solitary act of writing and high risk pastimes. He got his adrenaline rush from playing poker and climbing rock faces, and in the book profiles other creatives who feel (or felt) a need to push themselves to the physical or intellectual limits, including authors Philip Roth, Malcolm Lowry, Jean Rhys and Sylvia Plath.

This book is on my wish list, much coveted.

I must not one-click, I must not one-click, I must not ...

3 comments:

sympozium said...

Agree - we should all be involved in more navel-grazing and less navel-gazing! :-)

Janet said...

Quite an interesting point, have often wondered about this myself! But I think as with all other aspects of writing, there aren't any set rules. Some of my favourite authors like Graham Greene and Hemingway have led pretty interesting lives and wrote about them. 19th century writers like Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley relied a lot on their imagination and allusions to their own reading of classical works. Still, I suppose the general perception is that writers tend to be people who lead interesting lives but I don't think that's a prerequisite if you've got one heck of an imagination and the skills to put it down on paper effectively.

bibliobibuli said...

emily dickenson case in point

(mind you, never did like her poetry)