I made a pact with Dr Jared Noel, who died four years ago today. He would give me […]
There are several quotes by writers that I come back to when the going gets tough. JK Rowling’s speech at Harvard in 2008 has been a go-to many times over the past 10 years. What resonates? Her acknowledgement of the length of the tunnel; her stripping away of inessentials, what some would call ‘failure’; her narrow focus on the one path that mattered. It doesn’t make the tunnel any less dark, but it does remind me there’s a possible light somewhere up ahead:
“Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
It was just one small comment, but it made a world of difference. ‘I love that process of […]
To this day I am fearful of cliffs and rugged west coast beaches because of what happened at […]
All the time I feel the tension between composing poetry and writing incidental prose, but I feel it as a creative interchange, not as a conflict. When I took care to describe, in my Wimbledon reports, how Jimmy Connors deployed his Early Grunt along with a two-handed line drive and Bjorn Borg returned it along with a grunt in Swedish, I was being as poetically concentrated as I could ever get. The secret of writing that kind of journalism was to give it everything. The River in the Sky is full of momentary scenes that I might have written as journalism, but the opportunity never arose. Now they have. And only just this morning I saw, out there in the garden, a butterfly getting into a flower. He would have been in the poem if he’d arrived earlier.
— Clive James, New Statesman, August ’18
One movie … every night … for the next year … Two pretty confronting movies the past two […]