Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Wisdom from Anne Enright

“I think over the years you realise that your emotions about your work don’t have an awful lot to do with it. They are part of the process, obviously. But you finish the work and it’s shite, and then everybody loves it. Or you think it’s wonderful, and it’s completely ignored. So you learn after a while that whatever you think about the work is a bit like a nervous tic or a spasm of some description, and the work doesn’t care. It’s just sitting there on the page. People will read it whatever way they read it. You have to let that happen.”

I think Anne Enright is a wonderful writer and she comes across as a very down to earth, no bullshit type of person. This quote, which I lifted from last Sunday’s interview in the Sunday Tribune, reconfirms this. I spend a silly amount of time worrying about my work, whether it’s good or bad, if I’m delusional, if I’ll ever be ‘successful’ as a writer (whatever that means). I have had this experience she mentions: the few stories and poems of mine that I am really fond of, no one else ever seems to get them; they are never mentioned to me one way or another. The ones I dislike because they are too light/twee/silly, or seem unfinished/wrong, are the ones I get the most praise for.

I read a very ill-considered review of a friend’s new book and it made me feel annoyed. I don’t think he’s that upset by it, but it upsets me that someone can toss off a few careless, wrong-headed remarks about work that has taken years. My friend’s perspective is probably better than mine. The review is that reviewers opinion. No more, no less. If the work is good, and you know it is good, then that is all that counts.


Inkpot said...

I have found that as well, often the things you love the most or feel are your best writing are unsuccessful while the ones you dashed off are well received. I don't really know why this happens, except perhaps when you are too emotionally involved in a work the reader can pick up on it and it puts them off. I hate reading stories or books that have an idea or a character that I know the author loves.

Women Rule Writer said...

Hi Inkpot,
I know what you mean, but I don't think it's what I mean, if you know what I mean, in this context?!
I do agree with you about self-conscious stuff though - it's spottable a mile off.
I'm not talking about 'darlings' as such, just those characters or stories of your own that you have a fondness for, for (maybe) obscure reasons, like you remember how you felt when you wrote it. Or the character was inspired by someone in particular and it just makes you feel warm...Or you know it is good writing even if everyone else prefers your laugh-a-minute work.
Thanks a millo for dropping by. Been looking at your blogs. Wow!

Inkpot said...

Hi WRW, yes, I think I wandered off topic but I understand what you mean. Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

laurie said...

of course, anne enright's stuff most definitely isn't shite.

not that that negates everything she says, and i do completely get her point. but still. shite? she has no idea.

Women Rule Writer said...

Hi Laurie,
I think the fact that she thinks some of her stuff is 'shite' just shows that even the best of writers find it hard to be fully objective about their work.
It gives me hope!!