Tuesday, April 03, 2007

why I write

I've been thinking about this off and on the past few days, and this morning I took John Gardner's book, On Becoming A Novelist, off the shelf and paged through it. His books on writing are among my favorites, as he focuses more on the magic of the creative process than the technical aspects of writing.

It is John Gardner who wrote the mantra that stays with me when I write, the goal I have in mind: creating the "vivid, continuous dream."

So, today, I am thinking about why, and I find this passage from John:

"The true novelist is the one who doesn't quit. Novel-writing is not so much a profession as a yoga, or 'way,' an alternative to ordinary life-in-the-world. Its benefits are quasi-religious -- a changed quality of mind and heart, satisfactions no non-novelist can understand -- and its rigors generally bring no profit except to the spirit. For those who are authentically called to the profession, spiritual profits are enough."

This pretty much sums it up.


Joni said...

creating the "vivid continuous dream" - I like that. I also like what he says about it being yoga. It is definitely (I would imagine) a way different from the way of the "normal" world in that you're creating your own worlds. Most don't get to do that and wouldn't know how. What a gift!

Matthew said...



Anonymous said...

A beautiful notion.

To take it a step further, writing is like capturing in your hands a few rays of light reflecting off of life. You breathe between your fingers, then release your creation for the wonder of just one other person sitting in the darkness with you. Every reader is like that, sitting alone, waiting for you to unveil the light.

Writing is an intimate connection.

billie said...

Joni: Much like your dancing, I would bet. :)

Matthew: Glad you liked it!

Jason: What a lovely way to describe the connection between writer and reader. One of the best I've read - thank you for sharing that here.

Jeff said...

I like that quote. Thank you for posting it.

Joseph Gallo said...

A most excellent short article by editor-in-chief Dru Paggliassotti on this very subject can be found here at The Harrow called Why I Write.


Highly recommend reading it because she addresses both sides of this issue as a publisher and writer with excellent links embedded.

All I know is that I'm glad to be a writer and to proclaim so. And glad you are too. :-)

billie said...

Jeff: I'm glad you liked it - thanks for stopping by!

Joseph: Thanks for the link - I like what Dru has to say about writing. The Harrow seems like a great journal. I need to remember to go read it regularly (not just when I know you have something there!)


iamnasra said...

Thanks Jason Evans Im here to read about your blog..enjoyed about why i write its the same questiong I have why I poetry...

billie said...

Nasra, welcome. I'm glad the quote speaks to you as well!

R. said...

Thanks for sharing that.

"Vivid continuous dream" suits well, a very apt description of the private cinema in my head,... now adding 'On Becoming a Novelist' to my gotta-get list.

billie said...

Welcome, r.

I just coasted over to your place and will have to return later in the evening when I have time to stay - it looks wonderful.

Glad you found the quote useful in some way. It really hits the spot for me.