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Monday, 17 December 2012

WRITERS ON WRITING #26: Gina Berriault


I'd tell that person [ie. an aspiring writer] to learn more about everything, to rove, to be curious, and to read great writers from everywhere.  If there's a true compulsion to write, a deep need, that person will write against all odds.  And if that person enters a creative writing program, it would be for the purpose of learning how to shape what's already known and felt.  Sometimes, when I taught workshops, I was glad I hadn't subjected myself to the unkind criticism of strangers.  There's so much competitiveness, concealed and overt, among those who want to be writers and those who are writers.  In Unamuno's Tragic Sense of Life he speaks about poets' desperate longing to be remembered, to be immortal.  I think that the concept of immortality is long past, long gone from our consciousness.  Such immense change going on in the world, so much that will be irretrievable.  So now the vying with one another is only for present gain.  When I asked the students if they'd read this or that great writer, most had read only contemporary writers, and if the ads and the reviews praised those writers, the students accepted that evaluation.  Ivan Bunin, for example, has been almost forgotten, and what a writer he was!

'Don't I Know You?' an Interview conducted by BONNIE LYONS and BILL OLIVER
Reprinted in The Tea Ceremony: The Uncollected Writings of Gina Berriault (2003) 

 


GINA BERRIAULT (1926-1999) was one of the greatest (and least read) novelists and short story writers in post-war America.  Click HERE to read free online versions of two of her best short stories The Infinite Passion of Expectation and Around the Dear Ruin

You might also enjoy:
GINA BERRIAULT The Son (1966)
RICHARD YATES A Special Providence (1969)
IVAN BUNIN Collected Stories 1900-1944 (2009) 

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