Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To become a writer you must embrace failure

Hell, no, I'm not saying this. Ha Jin is saying this. If I did, in the first place, you won't believe me. Some think I'm nuts any ways.

I came across this interview of Ha Jin just by chance. Here he makes an important point, and I have all along been bogged down by the feeling that he describes so well:

I read something you said in an online interview [at collectedstories.com] that intrigued me. Basically, you said that to become a writer you must embrace failure. What did you mean by that?

The more ambitious you are, the stronger the sense of failure, because there are so many [laughs] great books that have been written. When I was at Emory University I often taught a story by Kafka: “The Hunger Artist.” That story explains the psychology of a writer. Very often we write not because we want to achieve—maybe there was that desire, but so much has been accomplished. We can’t do anything better. On the other hand, you have to go on and continue.
That’s why I think some sense of failure is essential to a writer from the very beginning.

How true! Read the whole interview here in Agni.

Agni also has a terrific interview with late Saul Bellow. It is a must read.


bibliobibuli said...

i like the idea of a sense of failure. seems to me you have to be a pretty self-aware writer to get to this point. there are a lot of people producing books who think they are just the greatest!

i'm glad i discovered agni magazine ... thanks

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks Sharon. Decency and humility are the hallmarks of great people, including writers. Marketing and publicity sometimes turns people's heads upside down. Then they forget to see the big picture.

Agni is a fabulous journal. I am sure you will like it.

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Ami Titash said...

Agree so much to this. But at times the sense of failure is so strong that its difficult to go further. :(

Nice blog.

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks Titash. That sense of failure should make us humble. I guess that sense is very good for a writer's spiritual determination: to go on even if there were no rewards, no accolades...nishkam karma.