Friday, July 30, 2004

on being a writer

excerpts from a speech delivered by a.l. kennedy at the 2003 edinburgh book fair:

" are not quite made a writer in the way that you are made blue-eyed, or diabetic. Writing is more of an inbuilt disposition – some children, suitably triggered, will grow up to perpetrate random murders: others, suitably triggered, will become heroin addicts, or clerics: still others will write. The trigger for writing appears to be very finely tuned – it may be sprung by chance qualities of light, coincidences, or any of the unpredictable odds and ends mixed up in the simple presence of everyday life. And, going back to those clerics, we might also describe the predisposition to write as a vocation, because it seems to be a need that comes from without as well within. It is ours, but it plays upon us, has an independent existence which sometimes argues with our own. This calling, like any other, can be resisted, abused, disappointed, or simply drummed into silence by external forces."

"... One of the things we look for when we read is just that level of commitment, that totality. We seek out the full realisation of a unique presence, a voice other than our own: the viewpoints of human beings beyond ourselves: the precision of experiences we cannot have, described by somebody we cannot be. When we read we can go where the geese are, because someone took pains to go there before us and write the way. The writer gives us two miracles, a world other than that which we inhabit and the ghost of their company, their voice."

READ THE WHOLE SPEECH BY THE INIMITABLE A.L. KENNEDY, in fact, read her whole site, esp. FAQs, she's hilarious. and read her books, especially her short stories. my favorite piece of hers is GROUCHO'S MOUSTACHE in ORIGINAL BLISS.