August 12, 2010

Why write?

At one point, a public relations guy named Jay asks about the purpose of novels, and Grimes wonders: "What are novels for? Entertainment? Metaphysical inquiry? Chronicling one's times? Could I tell Jay that the world is chaos and an artful novel satisfies our human desire for order, or that the novel excavates meaning from the rubble of incomprehension? That a novel is a thing to be read upon a beach in July for pleasure, or that I was an Iowa Writers' Workshop student and writing a novel was my homework? Or that I never want to die and when I'm writing a novel I believe I never will?" 
That's something the author Tom Grimes wonders about in his recent memoir, Mentor, which is reviewed in the WaPo this month. Later..

For me, writing is a necessity. I exist in sentences. I forget my sense of failure. I forget time. I forget that I'm aging. I forget that one day I'll die. Revising sentences is an act of hope, and connecting with a reader is the only leap of faith I'll ever take.
And this from Grimes towards the end of the book:
I'm a failure as a writer because I've overreached; my ambition was larger than my talent. Yet I willingly accepted that risk.
How many of us can say that we had the chutzpah and the cajones to take that risk and step out an swing!

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