The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog

All the latest news, ideas, and opinions from Denver's Independent Literary Center: lighthousewriters.org

Faulkner’s Resolve for the New Year

William Faulkner

If you need some resolve for your New Year’s resolutions, may I suggest you borrow it from Mr. William Faulkner? I’ve been reading his Paris Review Interview, and it’s full of hard, raw literary determination.

INTERVIEWER

Is there any possible formula to follow in order to be a good novelist?

FAULKNER

Ninety-nine percent talent . . . ninety-nine percent discipline . . . ninety-nine percent work. He must never be satisfied with what he does. It never is as good as it can be done. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done . . . The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.

Faulkner goes on to say that “If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.” He also says that he wrote As I Lay Dying in “about six weeks in the spare time from a twelve-hour-a-day job at manual labor.”

I’m pretty sure that I’ll never write a novel, much less an American classic, in six weeks — no matter how many or how few hours of manual labor I’m doing alongside of it. But I will gladly take a measure of the aspiration and a quaff of Faulkner’s beloved bourbon with my passage into new year.

About Nick Arvin

Author of The Reconstructionist + a couple other books.

One comment on “Faulkner’s Resolve for the New Year

  1. susannadonato
    December 30, 2011

    Not to mention the confidence – “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors” – oh, no worries, then. But I suppose confidence can lead to perseverance and that’s the only way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on December 29, 2011 by in Uncategorized.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 640 other followers

Follow us on Twitter!

%d bloggers like this: