Magazine article Book

Adventure Writing. (Epilogue)

Magazine article Book

Adventure Writing. (Epilogue)

Article excerpt

DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON WROTE that every man thinks more meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, and I must class myself with Dr. Johnson's unfortunates.

The sine qua non of adventure is danger, and I do not believe I have ever been in a dangerous situation--I have certainly never been in such a situation voluntarily. Writing has, though, for me, always felt like an adventure.

When I was writing well it felt not like creation but like discovery. And though writing is a sedentary occupation, it has, again, when I was doing it well, always seemed to suggest the possibility of risk.

How frank, for example, could the writer be without shame, how blunt without guilt? Could I quiet my fear of censure (critical, financial or, sad to state, political) and tell the truth as I discovered it?

Could I follow the plot, the story or the characters as they were revealed to me, to their logical conclusions in spite of considerations of reward?

Each new project has brought, I find, new challenges to accompany the old: Am I brave enough to discard the proven for the sake of the necessary? Is a new stylistic departure an act of arrogance or an obligation to a new perception? At what point does the honorable trade of writer (for which work one deserves compensation) become whoring after riches? Do I have the honesty to toss out the extraneous, to treat the reader or the audience with respect, to be clear? It felt and it feels like an adventure.

I recently moved into a new office. The young woman who helped me find it apologized that it did not have much of a view. I realized that in thirty-five years of writing professionally I have seldom looked out of the window. I looked at the notebook, or I looked at the typewriter, and, indeed and most truly, I looked, or listened, or strove to listen to an amorphous but real voice or vision, or sense that was absolutely trying to communicate to me. …

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