Abby Ellin: I worry–as a writer, and as a reader–that we should be telling stories about other people rather than about ourselves; that the confessional/memoir is not too easy an out for those of us who suffer from writer’s block.
Stephen Elliott: To be a writer is to be indulgent. Art is indulgent, narcissistic. Those are not fair criticisms. Was Hemingway self-indulgent? Sylvia Plath? Charles Bukowski? Jack Kerouac? Yes. They were all self-indulgent. Sitting around cafes writing on napkins or beer coasters. But I’m glad for the art they created.
It’s a common misperception that for some reason we should be telling stories about other people instead of ourselves. It’s completely wrong because it overlooks the most important person, the reader. Writing a book without accessing your experiences is like building a house without a hammer. The person living in the house doesn’t care whether or not you used a hammer. She only cares if the roof leaks. The book is no more or less valuable because the writer is present within the text. It’s a false concern. It’s like when we were adolescents and we couldn’t wait to denounce our favorite band. It’s not really about anything. It’s just bitter cynicism. And it’s irrelevant.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
From this here interview: