Wednesday, September 23, 2009


From this here interview:

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.

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