Archives for May 2010

The Key Insight: Joyce Carol Oates and Catullus on Writing Productivity

Some writers seem to have been born with an understanding of how to be productive. Here's the super-prolific Joyce Carol Oates in her 1978 Paris Review interview: “One must be pitiless about this matter of “mood.” In a sense, the writer will create the mood. If art is, as I believe it to be, a genuinely transcendental function – a means by which we rise out of limited, parochial states of mind – then it should not matter very much what states of mind or emotion we are in. Generally I've found this to be true: I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted, when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes...and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.” This fits in with the idea that the writing life, and each individual piece of writing, should be a journey without a fixed destination. You can't even set a nebulous goal, like “to sell” or “to write well” - because even a nebulous goal contradicts the very … [Read more...]