Monday, July 13, 2009

Writing As a Kind of Destiny

'When I printed my first book, I didn't send it to the bookstores or to other writers--I just gave copies to my those days nobody thought in terms of failure or success in selling books. We thought of writing as a kind of destiny.'
--the immortal Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who died in 1986. His writing accomplishments were so vast that the mere fact that he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is often seen as an indictment of the prize itself.


At 1:14 PM, Blogger Kim said...

I told a good writer friend of mine that the definition of success isn't always financial. Most true writers I know (myself included), write because they don't know how NOT to write. So if I get my words to paper (or screen), and I get them there effectively? I've achieved success.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Love it, Kim. Not knowing how not to write is another way of expressing what I often tell aspiring writers: you won't write seriously over many years simply because you want to, but only if you have to. If you have to, you'll organize your life around doing it, and it'll get done. Otherwise, a million, maybe a billion, things will intercede. It really has nothing to do with talent, inspiration, the muse, or any of that other romantic stuff. It's simply a function of discipline and sticking with it. And of course having something to say.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

All good advice. Especially about actually having something to say.

Borges is one of my heroes, for a number of reasons. For the man as much as his writing, although the writing is something unique. It's been meta-fiction, which is a good name for it: it's one step removed from "pure" fiction. I know a writer who thinks Borges is a hack, because none of his short stories made sense in the usual way; this writer seems impervious to the idea that they're not short stories at all.

Speaking of having the need to writer, look at what Borges overcame to fulfill his need. That's remarkable all on its own.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Art is referring to the fact that Borges was blind for much of his writing life (I believe he went blind around the early 80s, or more than 20 years before he died). That obviously is a compelling part of his story, and yet another reminder about how paltry are our excuses for not having accomplished our own writing. Others with far more formidable personal obstacles have found a way to do it.


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