I think that to a large extent the man has a real point. If you don’t get out and live life how can you possibly write anything worthwhile about life?
Important observations require that you actually observe important things occurring.
If all you do is spend all of your time taking courses to learn technique then you’re just making observations about observations. All you know is merely academic. You’re just navel-gazing.
Yes, you should definitely learn good, solid techniques. That is part (though only part) of your responsibility in being a good writer. But you should also be out in life observing it as it really is and living it so that you will have something true and real (rather than merely artificial and imagined) to say about it. The modern idea that writing is (or should be) an entirely detached and intellectual pursuit is not only repugnant and irrelevant, it’s also just plain silly and unrealistic.
The larger part of your time ought to be spent in living life and writing on that, not learning writing as a substitute or replacement for never having lived.
Experience is the fountainhead of observation, and observation is the Water of Understanding.
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 7 October 2014 09.20 EDT
Western literature is being impoverished by financial support for writers and by creative writing programmes, according to a series of blistering comments from Swedish Academy member Horace Engdahl, speaking shortly before the winner of the Nobel prize for literature is awarded.
In an interview with French paper La Croix, Engdahl said that the “professionalisation” of the job of the writer, via grants and financial support, was having a negative effect on literature. “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions,” he told La Croix. “Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living. Samuel Beckett and many others lived like this. It was hard – but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.”
Engdahl, who together with his fellow members of the 18-strong academy is preparing to select the winner of this year’s Nobel literature award, and announce the choice on Thursday, 9 October, said it was on “our western side that there is a problem, because when reading many writers from Asia and Africa, one finds a certain liberty again”.
“I hope the literary riches which we are seeing arise in Asia and Africa will not be lessened by the assimilation and the westernisation of these authors,” he added later in his interview with Sabine Audrerie.
Engdahl told the French journalist that he “did not know” if it was still possible to find – as Alfred Nobel specified the prize would reward – “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. Today’s winners are usually 60 or more years old, he said, and are thus unaffected by the changes he described in the life of today’s writers. “But I’m concerned about the future of literature because of this ubiquity of the market. It implies the presence of a ‘counter-market’: a protected, profound literature, which knows how to translate emotions and experiences”…