Thursday, October 25, 2007

Crap books

Have been thinking a bit about perfection recently. Not least because I was reading some research which says that a class of beginning ceramicists were split in half. One half were told they would be assessed on quantity of pots thrown not quality - the other half believed they had to put one perfect pot up for assessment. And guess what, the quantity not quality brigade produced without fail much better pots than the 'one perfect example' set. I know myself my best stories and poems slip through when I'm not trying to write something excellent, but just to have fun with the writing. (The novels never slip anywhere, they prima-donna right across my life demanding attention and lots and lots of love.)

Anyway I particularly liked this answer to an old chestnut of a question by Anne Enright (do you get shot if you don't put Booker Prize winner before her name now? I did a check and I've not seen Anne Enright written straight ONCE after the announcement). The full interview is on the Book Depository website. (Btw, the Nicola Barker one is worth a look too. I feel pretty evangelical about her novel Clear myself so it was interesting to hear a little bit about how, and why, it was written.)


But back to Booker Prize winner Anne Enright:

MT: Do you have any tips for the aspiring writer!?

AE: A successful writer did not write the book you open in the shop. The successful writer wrote about sixteen crap books, and kept working them, and rearranging them until one less crap book was born. Never look at your work and despair - this is hard, it takes nerves of steel - look at your work and then work at it.


I also liked Anne Enright on the Today programme the day after the prize announcement. She was asked to sum up her book and started, 'well, when I normally defend it I say...' to which she was challenged, 'what do you say when you don't defend it?' There was a moment's silence before she said, 'I've never had to not defend it before...' Or the conversation went something like that, and I was completely and utterly charmed by her.

3 comments:

Steven J Dines said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven J Dines said...

Hello, Sarah - an old face from EOTW/Critters Bar/Alice's Restaurant here...

That's a great answer from Enright. I wonder if she would like to visit my place of work and explain her response to my co-workers who wonder what the hell I've doing these last few years!

Best,
Steven

emma darwin said...

Yes, what a great answer by Enright!

Love the pottery example, too - it fits so exactly what I keep finding myself banging on about, a propos process vs. product, and other ways of sidestepping your Inner Critic.

Emma