Just found this interview with John Irving, it’s fantastic:
“I was an underdog,” the bestselling novelist writes in “The Imaginary Girlfriend,” a long, autobiographical essay in his new collection of short pieces, “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed.” “Therefore, I had to control the pace of everything. This was more than I learned in English 4W, but the concept was applicable to Creative Writing — and to all my schoolwork, too. If my classmates could read our history assignment in an hour, I allowed myself two or three. If I couldn’t learn to spell, I would keep a list of my most frequently misspelled words — and I kept the list with me; I had it handy even for unannounced quizzes. Most of all, I rewrote everything; first drafts were like the first time you tried a new takedown — you needed to drill it, over and over again, before you even dreamed of trying it in a match. I began to take my lack of talent seriously.” God, if I could have thought of that when I was in high school! I just remember being extremely tired all the time, not being able to get through my homework and failure following failure following failure. I wasn’t even best in my best subject, Norwegian. To my teacher I was just the kid to tried to hard. I was never exellent at anything. And no, I’m not over it. I have the sense that it’ll continue to color the way I look at myself forever. God, high school is dangerous…. If I’d taken my lack of talent seriously back then, maybe I wouldn’t have felt like such a failure at 30. Something to think about. Here you can read the rest of the interview. Enjoy!
So, I’ve had one of those days. Waking up at 9, eating breakfast, reading the paper. Pilates at noon, and then off to my favourite parisian café to write. Had my mac in my bagpack, and believe it or not – I was able to work until 5. Days like this doesn’t come around that often. I cherish them with all my heart when they do. I’m even home alone tonight, so I can play the piano and compose all I want. (Oh, shouldn’t have said that, now I almost certainly won’t do it!) A couple of days ago I finished “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. It made me cry. I’ve seldom read about a love so profound between two people (Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe). Also, what struck me about this text is how these two people never ask themselves the question if they really are artists or not. They just are. They just do it. They starv for art, they dedicate their lives to it. I love that kind of enthousiasm, and it makes me question all the doubt I feel about being an artist. Someone who never take themselves seriously as an artist most certainly won’t become one. Talent set aside, if you say “I am an artist, and I want to make art”, doesn’t that in some way make you an artist. You can be successfull or not, but art it is. In my opinion it is. I’ve spent the last mont on the couch staring at the ceiling after loosing my job (yes, that shitty job I hated). It’s terrible to be in that state where you think nothing matters and nothing will ever get better. I didn’t want to sing, and I didn’t want to write. It feels like such a waste of precios time. After spending a couple of weeks in Norway I feel better, and I’m hoping this fall will be a productive one. Still need a job though. Artists need to eat too…
When PJ spoke about her album in The Guardian, after having won the 2011 Mercury Price, she mentionned Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Patti Smith as inspiration for her music. It warms my heart, because the core of the music these people make is their WORDS, their COMMENT ON THE WORLD, their comment on LIFE. You feel close to them, because they are wise people you feel have a lot to teach you, and who’s music hold a kind of HUMANITY we need so badly in our world today. So much is about IMAGE, MONEY, SELLING RECORDS, BEING HIP. Everything seems so kitch and ugly, loud and intruding. Then we have these becons of light who shine the way so that we can find the way back to ourselves, and understand where we come from.
I haven’t spoken about it before, but to me “Let England Shake” got a whole new meaning after what happened in Oslo on the 22 July. If I ever got the opportunity, I think I would like to thank her for that reason. What happened in Norway was so unspeakable, and the only artistic comment I could find that kind of made sense was her record.