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Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Story Chooses the Writer

According to novelist John Irving, a writer does not have the luxury of deciding on a story; the story chooses the writer. "I've always felt my subject chooses me. Even if I don't like the subject, don't like what I'm writing about."

He offers his current novel, Until I Find You, as a perfect example. "This novel, I didn't like writing. It was painful." But as Irving has said before, you don't put a story aside just because it makes you feel uncomfortable -- a writer does not get to choose his obsessions. A story seeks out a writer, gets under his skin and insists on being written. "The subject chooses you."

Irving admits that the writer is not off the hook. Novels don't write themselves. "I choose the tone, the names, the language, the structure -- but not the subject or the story. The story chooses the writer; the writer chooses the structure."

Learn more about Irving on writing by returning to Writeful. Learn more about Irving at the link below.



Anonymous Anatoly said...

Hello Eric
It's Anatoly ;)
Reading this post I recalled old saying about why writers write ... It was somthing like "The writer is one who cannot to not write". But I cannot decently translate it (nor I knew the author). Search in Russian turned out with "If you can not to write, don't do it" supposedly by Chekhov. So I went for English quotes and got some:
* We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to. (W. Somerset Maugham)
* The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it. (Leo Rosten)
and last one from John Irving himself:
* The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.

Thanks www.quotationspage.com for enlightment.

October 26, 2005  

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