I’ve been reading Writers On Writing, A collection of Essays by Writers. Two stand out for their contradiction.
Carolyn Chute, author of four novels, (her first, The Beans of Egypt Maine was a critical, yet controversial success) says:
“I am an unmarketable person. I can’t teach writing or make a living in any public way, as I get confused when interrupted or over-stimulated. So, my only income is from novels. I make about $2 an hour. This should explain the absence of dishwasher, clothes dryer, running hot water, electricity, health insurance and other such luxuries.
Writing is like meditation or going into an ESP trance, or prayer. Like dreaming. You are tapping into your unconsciousness. To be fully conscious and alert with life banging and popping and cuckooing all around you, you are not going to find your way to your subconscious, which is a place of complete submission. It takes me three days of complete boredom and no interruptions to calm myself enough to get to that place.”
Walter Mosley, famous and acclaimed author of over thirty books, including, the Easy Rawlings mystery series, says:
“If you want to be a writer you have to write every single day. The consistencies, the monotony, the certainty, all vagaries and passions are covered by this daily recurrence. It doesn’t matter what time of day, and there’s no time limit on how long you have to write. Some days it might only be a few minutes, other days it might be a few hours. The important thing is that you breathe and dream your writing every single day or it will lose its life.
Nothing we create is art at first. It’s simply a collection of notions that may never be understood. Returning every day thickens the atmosphere. Images appear. Connections are made. But even these clearer notions will fade if you stay away more than a day.”
Mosley is a commercial and financial success with a plethora of novels behind him and in front of him. He is a good and admirable writer. Chute is not as well known, she lives quietly and poorly in the woods (with her also “unmarketable” husband) yet she is just as committed to her process and her personality. She is poor, but she is honest. She is a good and admirable writer.
Is it possible to be a writer who is a little of both? Can we write daily and also not-write daily? Is every writer a walking contradiction?