Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘A Sort of Life

The simplicity of excitement

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Graham Greene

Excitement is simple: excitement is a situation, a single event. It mustn’t be wrapped up in thoughts, similes, metaphors. A simile is a form of reflection, but excitement is of the moment when there is no time to reflect. Action can only be expressed by a subject, a verb, and an object, perhaps a rhythm—little else. Even an adjective slows the pace or tranquilizes the nerve. I should have turned to Stevenson to learn my lesson: “It came all of a sudden when it did, with a rush of feet and a roar, and then a shout from Alan, and the sound of blows and someone crying as if hurt. I looked back over my shoulder, and saw Mr. Shuan in the doorway crossing blades with Alan.” No similes or metaphors there, not even an adjective. But I was too concerned with “the point of view” to be aware of simpler problems, to know that the sort of  novel I was trying to write, unlike a poem, was not made with words but with movement, action, character. Discrimination in one’s words is certainly required, but not love of one’s words—that is a form of self-love, a fatal love which leads a young writer to the excesses of Charles Morgan and Lawrence Durrell, and, looking back to this period of my life, I can see that I was in danger of taking their road. I was only saved by failure.

Graham Greene, A Sort of Life

Written by nevalalee

February 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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Graham Greene

All that we can easily recognize as our experience in a novel is mere reporting: it has a place, but an unimportant one. It provides an anecdote, it fills in gaps in the narrative. It may legitimately provide a background, and sometimes we have to fall back on it when the imagination falters. Perhaps a novelist has a greater ability to forget than other men—he has to forget or become sterile. What he forgets is the compost of the imagination.

Graham Greene, A Sort of Life

Written by nevalalee

April 4, 2016 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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Written by nevalalee

August 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

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