So many good books, so little time. If I could complete one fiction per week, I can only complete around 50 to 60 novels a year. That is wishful thinking considering amidst my work and doing all the things I like and dislike, I do not actually get to read one fiction per week unless it is a short one.
I also read books other than fictions. I have started reading the memoir This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett . Here is a passage that I find inspiring for anyone who wants to write.
‘Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write , practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story , learn from it, put it away, write another story. Think of a sink pipe filled with sticky sediment. The only way to get clean water is to force a small ocean through the tap. Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama. We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the fresh water underneath. Does this sound like a lot of work without any guarantee of success ? Well yes, but it also calls into question our definition of success.’
The only way to learn to write is by writing and the pleasure is in the writing. I cannot agree more. Ms Patchett aspired to be a writer since she was twelve years old. She always knew that she wrote because it was her joy.
In his essay entitled “ Why Bother?” ( How to be Alone, Jonathan Franzen ) Franzen wrote this :
‘ At the heart of my despair about the novel had been a conflict between a feeling that I should Address the Culture and Bring News to the Mainstream, and my desire to write about the things closest to me , to lose myself in the characters and locales I loved. Writing, and reading too, had become a grim duty; and considering the poor pay, there is seriously no point in doing either if you’re not having fun.’
Here is what Franzen transcribed from a letter he had received from Don DeLillo, to whom he had written in distress.
‘The novel is whatever novelists are doing at a given time. If we’re not doing the big social novel fifteen years from now, it’ll probably mean our sensibilities have changed in ways that make such work less compelling to us - we won’t stop because the market die up. The writer leads, he doesn’t follow. The dynamic lives in the writer’s mind, not in the side of the audience. And if the social novel lives, but only barely, surviving in the cracks and ruts of the culture, maybe it will be taken more seriously, as an endangered spectacle. A reduced context but a more intense one.
Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around .In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some under culture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.’
Reading and writing require one to be alone in his or her own contemplation . As I read, ideas bounce from one book to another and every book is an invitation to savor, experience , learn and grow. There are great books for every reader. In order to improve one’s writing craft, one has to keep writing. Ideas are everywhere, writing helps me to formulate my thoughts and as I compose , I reflect.