Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two Things that are Important for Writing

Very interesting interview with Michael Hofmann from Stylus magazine, March 2009, which I missed completely at the time. A quick excerpt:

RL: So what things should a poet keep in her or his kit? You’ve thrown away the notebook…

MH: Which I regret. You should all keep notebooks. I think the two things that are important for writing… The contrarian Karl Kraus said that a writer who read was like a waiter who ate, as if there was something very distasteful and to be discouraged about that. It’s a wonderful witticism, but I do think that one has to read, that’s the first thing.

And the second thing is walk, which I suppose I took up from Mandelstam or Montaigne, pacing back and forth. It has to do with rhythm. The brain requires a jolt. You need to get away, especially from all the machinery in modern life. (Though nowadays you can take them with you.) Modern life throws more and more machines at us, and writing is something so old. If you want to write, you need freedom from machines. You have to listen to things in your head, and if you’re surrounded by machinery and gazing into a screen, you’re not going to be able to hear what’s in your head. So I would say walking and reading and silence, although I often would type with loud music going on. That has a sort of disinhibiting effect. I used to like that; I’d play very loud records and type.

No comments: