Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Out of the Closet

From a March 2000 interview with Philip Schultz (interviewed by Ricardo Nirenberg):

PS: The first stage for students at The Writers Studio: people realize that it is a form of communication, and that they are writing for others. If they are not, then they are not writers: they are keeping a journal, or a diary, and that's fine. Many people create a fantasy that they are communicating, but they are really writing for themselves. The second stage is to act on it, to start...what comes out is that people realize that there is such a thing as a persona, there is such a thing as craft. But the main thing is that what they are writing should be for others...fiction writers have to learn a trade, like carpenters. Second stage, then: struggle with the fact that there is craft. The ones who leave can't accept that. They want to take writing as an escape, not as work. But at the second stage you don't attempt to teach them about persona. Level three is a deepening or heightening of the process, where persona is for the first time taken seriously.

RN: I read some of the material on The Writers Studio, and it seems to me that your main thrust is psychological: to get people to come out of their egos. In a way, that's similar to certain spiritual disciplines, Zen Buddhism for example.

PS: Right. And another way of saying it is that egos are extremely powerful, and unless you can distance yourself from yours, you cannot fashion an esthetic object that will interest others. The need for attention and acclaim is healthy; there is a good narcissism and a bad one. The latter is the urge to write something that's private and of no interest to others, a private deal. A pact with the Devil.

RN: I read in the brochures of The Writers Studio that if the strong desire is there, anyone can write successfully. Do you believe that? Yet, obviously some people are more talented than others.

PS: The proviso in that statement is that anyone can learn to express themselves; now, how good they're going to be, that's up to them. What I mean is: enough so as to write. As far as talent goes, I think every child is talented and imaginative. I don't know anything about DNA, but I don't think God anoints one child over another and says, this one is going to be talented and this one isn't. Proust is all desire. How many people could totally isolate themselves for half their lives, and be that focused. I think it's too easy to say some people are born with talent. If you have a burning desire to communicate and to be well known, and you're intelligent enough to find your style, and able enough to arrange your life so as to do so much work, and selfish enough to put it first, then the talent is there. Talent is created. So if students continue to work seriously, no matter how long it takes, I won't give up on them. I have so many cases of people who apparently didn't have any talent at all, were told that, and five years later they are totally different writers.

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Blogger jsd said...

Very nicely put.

7:04 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

jsd: I thought so, too.

8:09 PM  
Blogger San said...

Love the idea of talent being created. Makes a lot of sense at that.

Thanks for posting this, Paschal.

9:52 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: Dude's almost (almost) got me enrolled at The Writer's Studio.

10:01 PM  

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