the writing life's deepest pleasure: Jenny Diski, on growing up to be a novelist

Sunday, May 8, 2016

In reading In Gratitude, Jenny Diski's devastating final work of literature (she passed away just days ago), I come upon these words. She's reflecting on her evolving sense of what kind of writer she would grow up to be. She has, I think, settled on the writing life's deepest pleasure: the lasting satisfaction of doing the work itself.

Later it was a novelist, when I realised that novelists lived exactly as I wanted to live. At home, with a couch to sleep on when I lost the thread, and a beloved typewriter. Lunches and literary parties, not so much. Fame? Maybe. My finished book in its jacket in a bookshop window. Yes, but something told me it wasn't a satisfaction that would last for long. One look, one pleasure and then Oh Christ, what about the next book? Or most simply a writer alone in a room and a couple of inches of typescript. Looking at it, half-done, two-thirds finished. I did that. Lying on the couch with a cigarette and half closing my eyes to see enough of the manuscript waiting to grow.


Unknown said...

Indeed, Beth. My own deepest satisfaction comes in mini-big-bangs after puzzling over the smallest acts of creation: resolving a plot obstacle; the sudden epiphany of the just-right adjective or verb; making the complex plain and the plain rich. I have had a number of incarnations over what has become a longish life -- business, athletics, women, family, etc. but when I committed late in life to become a writer, and in fact have, what had theretofore been feelings of being a lucky guy, transformed into feeling deeply blessed.

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