Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Louise Glück on Writing

In a recent interview with the Yale Daily News, Louise Glück had this to say about how writing never gets any easier:

Q: If you had to give one piece of advice to young writers, what would you say?

A: I think young writers need to know that it never gets easy. The fantasy exists that once certain hurdles have been gotten through, this art turns much simpler, that inspiration never falters, and public opinion is always affirmative, and there’s no struggle, there’s no torment, there’s no sense that the thing you’ve embarked on is a catastrophe. I’ve been seriously writing since I was in my earliest teens, and I suffer the same torments that I did then. And the only difference is that now I know they’re never going to go away.

For those with an interest in the Eastern forms (and the philosophy that underlies them), one might simply say "Life never gets any easier," which is much the same thing. For the full interview, check here.

All day I tried to distinguish
need from desire. Now, in the dark,
I feel only bitter sadness for us,
the builders, the planers of wood,
because I have been looking
steadily at these elms
and seen the process that creates
the writhing, stationary tree
is torment, and have understood
it will make no forms but twisted forms.
Louise Glück

And from the master:

a long night--
the devil in me
torments me
translated by David G. Lanoue



Ed Baker said...

concomitant to this-all
just last night finished
first read of Cliff Edwards' van Gogh and God AND I "inhaled" the last two chapters:

"The Oriental Connection"

many years ago my I was working on something and said

"This isn't easy." My Original Muse, without hesitation, replied:

"Whoever said Life was easy?"

that Gluck poem/observation...

much in the "akin-to" van Gogh's "trip"


-everything changes
-nothing lasts forever
-everybody suffers

best to come to things w attitude of
watching and waiting for
something to happen...

something always does

gonna print this poem
and pin it on my "wall of fame" and get

Thom Dawkins said...

Thanks for this post! I've been having a lot of discussions with younger writers, and a lot of them are just at the brink of understanding the "torment" of good writing. I think I'll share this with them. They should know about Lilliput, regardless!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, thanks ... we don't have this one at the library so I'll pass it on to the buyer ...

As you said everything comes ... the connection between her comment and her poem made by me completely serendipitously and then the Issa, well, no problem there.

Thom, many thanks, particularly for passing this on to the young writers ... and for the kind words about Lilliput ...

Charles Gramlich said...

I've found out how uneasy it gets over time. Man, there's never any chance to really let up in writing.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Another impressive thing about Glück is she often talks of long periods of not writing, something that someone who has accomplished so much as a poet rarely talks about.

It is important for folks struggling to know this is how it is ...