John Updike on Writing

(taken from Fresh Air: Writer’s Speak with Terry Gross)

“…you can take painful and bad experiences and somehow just in writing about them you get rid of the pain…Writing as a release, a kind of therapy…when you write about something in a strange way you become lightened of it.  Writing is my sole remaining vice; it is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable.  In the morning light one can write breezily without the slightest acceleration of one’s pulse about what one cannot contemplate in the dark without turning in a panic to God.  In the dark one truly feels that immense sliding, that turning, of the vast earth into darkness and eternal cold, taking with it all nature and scenery, and the bright distractions and furniture of our lives; even the barest earthly facts are unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death.  Writing and making the world light in distorting, pitifying, verbalizing approaches blasphemy.  …I think there’s something demonic in the complete writer…an ideally nice person would probably not become a writer…we are cruel beings and all of the shadow sides of one’s self-knowledge goes into writing and in a way energizes it.”


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