I always find reading about Writers’ methods and motivations fascinating. I would like to go through a couple of my favourites to help people along if they are getting stuck…..
P.G. Wodehouse had a peculiar way of going about his business. He would finish pages of writing on an old typewriter and then stick them on the wall. Pages he felt were not up to standard would be at the bottom and pages nearer to completion would be higher up. If a page was completed to his satisfaction it would be up above the picture rail. He described his life as little more than “sitting in front of the typewriter and cursing a bit.”
All of this however, did give us some fantastic moments…..
“Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons.”
“Honoria is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a Welterweight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge.”
Some of it is almost poetic…
“As a rule, you see, I’m not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling to Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps…the clan has a tendency to ignore me.”
As an aside, the paranoid times we live in now can be highlighted by looking at one of Wodehouse’ habits. Upon finishing a letter or an article he would put in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and throw it out the window onto the street. He assumed that the average person would pick it up and put it in the postbox for him. Not one thing failed to arrive at its destination. Can anyone imagine this happening now?
ORWELL, in his essay Why I Write said “writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
He describes the motivations for writing as
1 - Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one.
2 - Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.
3 - Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
4 - Political purpose – using the word “political” in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.
He also said that “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘ I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”