Now it seems I can't enough of Norman Mailer. After reading and making copious notes from his interview in the Paris Review, I was browsing in the Aladdin's Cave of Galignani's bookshop in Paris, and came across his collection of essays, The Spooky Art. This is a good find for me at this time, because I found inside an explanation for something I accept but has often puzzled me. I seem to work best when I get myself into a bored gloomy state - being alone in a strange city or town really makes my creative juices flow. And in retrospect, I'll look at these times as good times, even though I seem to spend most of them watching couples, and friends, and family groups with real, physical envy, wishing I was with anyone else than myself and my note pad!
However, Norman Mailer writes:
I've found that I can't do serious writing without getting into a mild depression. (Note! I am not speaking of a clinical depression.) An ongoing bad mood can be, however, a avital part of the process, because to begin with, it's perilous to fall in love with what you're doing. You lose your judgment. And for the simplest reason - the words, as you are writing them, stir up your feelings too much. Odds are, if they excite you disproportionally, they may do less to others.'
Who was it who said, of writing,: 'Kill your babies'?
Here's another quote of Mailer's I underlined:
Writing is wonderful when you talk about it. It's fun to contemplate. But writing as a daily physical activity is not agreeable. You put on weight, you strain your gut, you get gout and chilblains. You're alone, and every day you have to face a blank piece of paper.
But before we get too gloomy, I like this observation best because it sums up just how lucky I feel most of the time to be writing:
I remember Elia Kazan saying one day at Actors Studio, 'Here, we're always talking about the work. We talk about it piously. We say the work. The work. Well, we do work here, and get it straight: Work is a blessing.' He said this, glaring at every one of us. And I thought, He's right. That's what it is. A blessing.
And I do consider myself blessed, even if I have to be mildly depressed to do it best....!