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Writing quote of awesome, from Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith, in an article originally published in 1964:

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When writing becomes a habit and a necessity, the writer need never give a thought to discipline, because writing is a pleasure. Then friends and relatives will say, "Ah, what discipline!" on seeing the writer at work, not realizing that it would take more discipline than they dream of for him to spend the next few hours in their company.

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Exactly. I've always felt that the praise was unearned when people tell me they admire my discipline in finishing novels. After all, I only do it because I really want to, not for reasons of morality or health or civic duty. *shrug*

(She does add, and I do agree with this too: "After a good day's work, when one is feeling rather godlike, it is a different matter; a writer looks on the human race with a new joy, and feels like saying even to the Fuller Brush man, 'Come in! Got time to sit down for a few minutes?'" Not that we have Fuller Brush men anymore.)

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
mollyringle
Feb. 5th, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
Glad it resonated with you too! I don't need *much* time to write, but the small amount is indeed essential for my sanity. And then I guess socializing at least can count as character study. :)
mariole
Feb. 4th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
When writing becomes a habit and a necessity, the writer need never give a thought to discipline, because writing is a pleasure. Then friends and relatives will say, "Ah, what discipline!" on seeing the writer at work, not realizing that it would take more discipline than they dream of for him to spend the next few hours in their company.

*points excitedly*

That's it! That's it! That's me!

Wow. I must be the reincarnation of Patricia Highsmith. ...except that we're both alive at the same time, so probably the best I can hope for is some sort of "Being Patricia Highsmith". Only I hope I don't jump into her when she's entertaining the Fuller Brush man, because I think she has more patience than me in that regard. :)

GREAT quote! Thanks, Mol!
mollyringle
Feb. 5th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
I think she's dead now, so maybe she lingers with you lately at least. :)

I must actually read her novels one of these days...
mariole
Feb. 6th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
Well, we overlapped for nearly 40 years, so I guess there could have been a deal of leaping back and forth. I would be proud to carry her artistic residue. :)
dirae
Feb. 4th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
When I'm writing I hate what happens to me. I get really wrapped up in what I'm doing and close myself off from the rest of the world--an unfair thing to do, in my opinion, to my husband and son which is why my output has decreased steadily over the last few years. Specifically, my time with them is limited as it is and I don't like to be self-indulgent. Nevertheless, writing always made me feel like an anal-attentive, anti-social ass living in a fishbowl existence.

This is not to say I don't like writing. There are points when I feel extreme joy in the process of creation--usually when I get to share it with others, as Highsmith alludes to: the God-like point before everything you have written is torn apart in editing--that brief moment when whatever you have written is seemingly perfect because it is FINISHED.

I guess I have a Kafkaesque approach to the concept all in all.
mollyringle
Feb. 5th, 2008 05:41 am (UTC)
Someone once posted a quote, "I do not like writing. I like to have written." Seems related to your later comment there. :) I sometimes feel that way too, though on the whole I do like being in the middle of a project as well.

Still, I never want to be one of the nutball writer types holed up in the attic and refusing to see anyone. Long ago I decided I'd take the healthy family life over any pristine artistic existence, and have learned to be content with getting, say, an hour of writing done per day, if that.

Mostly I like having the novel and its characters kicking around in the background in my head. When I'm done and the novel goes into quarantine for a couple months, I get depressed, and have to jump into a new project. Guess that's why I've ended up with so many damn overlapping novels undergoing editing at once. :)
jsl32
Feb. 4th, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
one of the massively old cure-crew says hi.
i have no expectations re:friending, just wanted you to know that i added you because i remembered you from back in the day regarding le cure... that's all.


jsl32
Feb. 4th, 2008 10:05 am (UTC)
PS: you can screen this if you like.
but also i am local to you, curiously enough. i am on the eastside (kirklandia), though, and...well, one can always comment in my journal for further explanations. i'm just surprised you have a livejournal and are apparently back in seattle is all.
modmerseygirl
Feb. 5th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
Oh, excellent! And so very true....
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )