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?