Thursday, November 17, 2011

Writing advice from Janet Frame

Ruth Dallas and Janet Frame, NZ delegates to the 42nd International PEN Congress
Photographed at the conference, Sydney Australia 1977

One of the many gems from Janet Frame in her own words:

I just would like to say that a writer can’t choose her characters. Someone says, ‘Why don’t you write about this, why don’t you write about that, why don’t you write about these people?’ A character chooses a writer, a writer doesn’t choose a character, and there must be, before the writing, a feeling of haunting by this character, a deep feeling of being haunted. I think that is the only basis for writing. It may not emerge worthwhile, but anyone who sits down and says, ‘I think I’ll write a poem’, is to my mind, well — I don’t think that’s a favourable beginning for a writer. ‘I must write a poem', yes, but not 'I think it would be a good idea to write a poem'.

(This quote is from a recorded interview with Janet Frame in Australia in 1977, made when Janet Frame was a NZ delegate to the 42nd International PEN Congress in Sydney. The transcript of the interview is published for the first time in Janet Frame in her own words.)

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