One of the wonderful things about doing research for this Writers’ Desks series is that I always stumble about something new and interesting.
I found this delightful interview in Believer Magazine with Anne Enright, the author of the 2007 Booker Prize winner for her novel The Gathering.
Do take the time to have a look at this magazine for more information on Anne Enright.
Here’s part of the interview:
BLVR: Your novels have a lot of ghosts. The characters are always bumping into the ghosts and the ghosts are bumping into the characters with no real explanation. American writers don’t do that so much.
AE: My ghosts are more like metaphors. They’re like, just words. They vary hugely in their metabolic content—how physical they are or how real they are or how visible they are in the sentence or the room. All of these things are up for grabs, really. Some of my ghosts are corpses in the room. The thing that won’t go away. Whatever it is, in whatever form. That’s the ghost.
BLVR: That headrest in Veronica’s car, in The Gathering. That was a great ghost.
AE: Yeah. He’s a ghost. I looked out the window one day and there was the car. Martin, my husband, had put the seat forward to get something out of the backseat. But when I saw it I thought something catastrophic had happened in the car. It looked like a body with its head on the dash. Suddenly I thought someone had died in the car. It was just peripheral. Just a little flicker. But then I had to check. And, of course, it wasn’t a dead body, it was just the seat.
Here’s her office with a Philippe Starck “Louis Ghost” chair.
Photographer: Eamonn McCabe
“It is very comfortable, and I like the idea of the ghost at the desk.”
Here’s Anne Enright talking about her writing process with Believer Magazine:
BLVR: Can you talk about what happens as you work your way into a new book, what that part of your process is like?
AE: What you have to do is not leave the house. You have to not get up and get some exercise and do yoga and clear your head. It’s the opposite of that. You start writing, and it falls apart very quickly. And then you have to start again. In the beginning, you have a plan for a book that everyone will love in various ways. And then you start writing and you realize you have a different kind of book on your hands. And so the easy, conventional novel, the idea of that novel, falls apart, and you must start writing the thing itself. If you resist and you continue to pursue the easy idea, you get a fake novel, written according to a preordained pattern. The world is full of them. You have to be less controlling. It’s like getting a herd of sheep across a field. If you try to control them too much, they resist. It’s the same with a book. If you try to control it too much, the book is dead. You have to let it fall apart quite early on and let it start doing its own thing. And that takes nerve, not to panic that the book you were going to write is not the book you will have at the end of the day
You learn a lot of the same lessons at the desk that you learn on the yoga mat. You learn to observe your emotions about your work rather than indulge them. When you find yourself saying, “This is terrible,” “This is brilliant,” “This is sad,” you learn to just watch those emotions rather than believe them. And there is a monastic quality about working at the desk every day for many years that yoga seems to make sense of.
What’s your writing process like?
25 thoughts on “Anne Enright”
My writing process is soul wrenching! 🙂 The writing part for me is easy. The editing on the other hand is frustrating, exhilarating, and pull my hair out exciting. LOL!
I feel the same way about editing. I just finished Bloodlines and will write a review on Amazon. Really suspenseful from the beginning to end:)
Yea, editing, along with marketing is one of the things authors don’t enjoy doing. 🙂
YAY! I SO glad you enjoyed it. I’m always to critical of my own work. My bff usually has to pry it from my fingers. LOL!
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the lovely review, Carol! I really appreciate it!
Your welcome. I was simply saying what I thought and felt:)
Hi Carol. Anne Enright’s explanation for the evolution of a story really speaks to me. Her likening it to discoveries on the yoga mat and paying attention to the cues that direct her words is just wonderful. I’m just on the way to the mat right now. Can’t wait to see how the day unfolds:)
Hope it unfolds peacefully and with pleasant surprises. I also love to do yoga and liked how Anne Enright connected the practice to writing:)
I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading and commenting:)
Hello Carol. Anne Enright’s explanation of how stories evolve really speaks to me. I was delighted to read about her likening of her process to discoveries on the yoga mat. I’m just on the way to the mat right now. Can’t wait to see how the day unfolds:)
The interview is a great find! What you set out to write and what actually comes out are often two very different things. Glad to see we all struggle with that.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Frank.
You’re so right about we set out to write and what comes out.
It’s a bit like excavation when I research for my posts. I never know what I’ll find.
The usage of ghosts in her fiction linked so perfectly with her chair. It was a wonderful surprise for me.
I enjoyed this interview, Carol ~ thanks for sharing. It’s great when we realize that “we are NOT the thoughts we think.” Just because an OPINION (of good, bad, brilliant, rubbish) pops into our head does not mean we must internalize it as truth. It’s a perspective, not a fact.
You might be interested in the joining a Blog Hop on Maggie’s blog. I’ll come back with the link.
Here it is:
I might be interested. I’m not sure how it works.
Most blog hops are pretty informal. This one focuses on the writing process which is why, after reading this post, I thought you might enjoy participating.
After you read Maggie’s post and Tina’s post (linked in Maggie’s post), decide whether to hop on board. If you want to play along, comment on their posts, then copy the 4 questions, answer them in a post here, and share the link with Maggie and/or Tina.
Even if you don’t want to post your own responses, you can read and comment on other people’s posts by checking out the links to other participants.
Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m always glad when fellow bloggers get something out of my posts 🙂
“If you try to control it too much, the book is dead. You have to let it fall apart quite early on and let it start doing its own thing.”—Although I’m not sure I agree with that completely, it’s very interesting to read her process. I do like to control my book so I know how it needs to unfold. But even then it can start doing its own thing. I usually let it, as long as it improves the story and doesn’t destroy the structure.
Thanks for reading, Carrie and for commenting. It’s interesting how you allow your book to unfold “as long as it doesn’t destroy the structure.”
I’d love to read a blog post on that. Very curious:)
“…My ghosts are more like metaphors. They’re like, just words. They vary hugely in their metabolic content—how physical they are or how real they are or how visible they are in the sentence or the room. All of these things are up for grabs, really. Some of my ghosts are corpses in the room. The thing that won’t go away. Whatever it is, in whatever form. That’s the ghost….”
We all have “ghosts”…of the metaphoric sort. Some of us refer to them as being “the monsters in the closet,” while others call them “spiders,” “skeletons,” and of course, ghosts ! Truly, unless and until we acknowledge our ghosts, our monsters in the closet, our spiders and ghosts, we will have no peace.
My own writing used to be this ghost, where I would search for meaning and answers in my own words. Then, one day I just chose to no longer fear my own ghosts. I truly have no process. It really IS just me and the Mother Goddess sitting here, typing away whatever it is that She needs to tell the world. She dictates, and I write it all out for Her.
Spiders, though, are another thing altogether haha
Thanks for reading and for your interesting comment. For me, spiders not so much…but snakes that’s another thing.
I like what you say about not having any process that it really is just you and Mother Goddess.Seems like an organic way to write:)
Interesting and positively helpful to a writer. Thanks.
Lovely post. I am the type of writer that hates outlines. Although, I do know that if I stop in the middle, or somewhere in between, the ghost runs off with my muse. I hope they return soon because time is running along. And I do want to carry on. Hugs, and thanks Carol. You’re writing is such an inspiration.
Thanks, Drew. It’s very kind of you to say. Writers need this kind of feedback…At least i do. It really makes me happy when my posts reach people. 🙂
I hope the ghosts return soon.
Lovely post. I am the type of writer that hates outlines. Although, I do know that if I stop in the middle, or somewhere in between, the ghost runs off with my muse. I hope they return soon because time is running along. And I do want to carry on. Hugs, and thanks Carol. Your writing is such an inspiration.
I loved seeing Enright’s desk and reading about her process–especially after just finishing a draft of a novel that turned out to very different than it originally seemed. And I’ve enjoyed spending time on your site. Love the A Blog I Like series : )
Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂
Yes, I’ve been neglecting the A blog I like series. You remind me to get back to it. Thanks 🙂
Have a Happy Weekend.