Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Essay by Carson McCullers

Random fact #54 - My daughter was almost named Carson after this fine author, Carson McCullers. Carson has a great essay about her writing & creative process online.

Here's a sample and you can click on the link below to read the whole thing--

When work does not go well, no life is more miserable than that of a writer. But when it does go well, when the illumination has focused a work so that it goes limpidly and flows, there is no gladness like it.

Why does one write? Truly it is financially the most ill-rewarded occupation in the world. My lawyer has figured out how much I made from the book The Member of the Wedding, and it is, over the five years I worked on it, twenty-eight cents a day. Then the irony is, the play The Member of the Wedding had made so much money that I've had to give eighty per cent to the government — which I'm happy, or at least have to be happy, to do.

It must be that one writes from some subconscious need for communication, for self-expression. Writing is a wandering, dreaming occupation. The intellect is submerged beneath the unconscious the thinking mind is best controlled by the imagination. Yet writing is not utterly amorphous and unintellectual. Some of the best novels and prose are as exact as a telephone number, but few prose writers can achieve this because of the refinement of passion and poetry that is necessary. I don't like the word prose; it's too prosaic. Good prose should be fused with the light of poetry; prose should be like poetry, poetry should make sense like prose.


--- Carson McCullers from The Flowering Dream, Esquire, 1959


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1 comment:

Martha Silano said...

Hi Kelli,

I so enjoyed the Carson McCullers' piece. Thanks for posting it. This part made me smile:

"A writer's main asset is intuition; too many facts impede intuition. A writer needs to know so many things, but there are so many things he doesn't need to know . . ."

I was thinking how this runs sort of counter to my own thinking. I like to think I need to know a lot of facts. However, the reminder that I can trust my intuition helps me deal w the fact that sometimes the facts are skewed, slanted, or completely wrong. Facts are flimsy things that fall apart, but intuition we can almost always count on--our own, that is.

And the many things we don't need to know--I love that notion. I think I need to make a list right now of all the things I don't need to know.

Also just wanted to say that I love your cat posts and your small town facts posts. Please don't stop intermingling the business of poetry with the business of living.

And get those five copies of your mss. out asap. The world needs your next book very much.

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