Check out this interview with one of my favorite modern writers — Marilynne Robinson. (via the New York Times).
Her answer, when asked how she handled the ‘long years’ between the release of her first novel and her second, is both unexpected and intriguing: “My greatest fear was that I would write a fraudulent book simply to escape the embarrassments of having written only one novel.”
As an aside, this paragraph (from Robinson’s novel Gilead) is one of the reasons why I love reading her:
“The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance, I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn’t. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.”
As one fine reviewer said,
“The simple, unself-conscious beauty of these sentences are inseparable from, and equal to, the beauty they describe. The passage feels like an instinctual insight into a way of experiencing the world that is otherwise alien to me. I have read and loved a lot of literature about religion and religious experience—Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flannery O’Connor, the Bible—but it’s only with Robinson that I have actually felt what it must be like to live with a sense of the divine.”
“There is nothing fraudulent about her eloquence, nothing remotely shifty or meretricious about the beauty of her sentences. Her voice is at once sad and ecstatic, conversationally fluent and formally precise. And it doesn’t feel like a performance or a feint. It doesn’t feel like Beckett’s version of vanity. It feels like wisdom. Perhaps not the kind of wisdom I am used to acknowledging, but wisdom all the same.”