Monthly Archives: July 2011
“One impact of writing on families is that the writer has to spend long periods alone with a pen, and this time, and this attention, is taken from the family. I knew a writer’s family where the children buried the typewriter in the garden. I do try very hard not to “put people into stories.” I know at least one suicide and one attempted suicide caused by people having been put into novels. I know writers to whomI don’t tell personal things – which is hard, as these writers are always the most interested in what one has to tell. All writing is an exercise of power and special pleading – telling something your own way, in a version that satisfies you. Others must see it differently. As I get older I increasingly understand that the liveliest characters – made up with the most freedom – are combinations of many, many people, real and fictive, alive and dead, known and unknown. I really don’t like the idea of “basing” a character on someone, and these days I don’t like the idea of going into the mind of the real unknown dead. Oscar Wilde appears in this novel, but the novelist doesn’t say what he thinks. I am also afraid of the increasing appearance of “faction” – mixtures of biography and fiction, journalism and invention. It feels like the appropriation of others’ lives and privacy. Making other people up, which is a kind of attack on them. Now we have the blog and the facebook everyone is a writer, and everyone’s idea of anyone else, kind or cruel, just or unjust, is available on the Web, to be believed, or mocked. Blogs and facebooks too have caused suicides. Writers often realise the power of writing too late.”
AS Byatt, on The Children’s Book from here.