Posts tagged: quote

Jun 12 2009

The passion behind the words.

I read a short novel today. It’s a young adult novel by Canadian author William Bell. His books have won awards. I discovered him when I was in high school and read what I could find; I found another two books of his at our local library a few weeks ago and have finally had time to read the first. It is called Alma, and it is about a young girl who loves to read and longs to be a writer. (Sound familiar?)

Alma befriends an author – her favourite author, no less – and near the end of the book, the author says a few words about the passion writers have for telling stories. Tears threatened as I read the words, for they are true:

“But the main thing, I think, was that I had simply lost my passion for telling stories. That’s something you know about, Alma, the passion, because you have it.”

Alma thought she knew what Miss Lily meant, but she wasn’t sure. “Tell me what it’s like,” she said. “Please.”

“Perhaps,” Miss Lily began, “it is, above all things, lonely. So many hours by oneslf, lost in research or imaginings. Then there is the lack of understanding. So many people seem to think that all one has to do is find an idea for a story and write it down. They talk of inspiration as if it replaced grinding toil, the wrestling with ideas and character and narrative structure, the revising, the arguments with editors. And worst of all, the corroding self-doubt that will not go away no matter how well received the books are.”

Miss Lily looked away again.

“All of which sounds like a complaint,” she went on, “but I don’t mean it that way. What gets us through is the thrill of making something out of nothing. It’s the passion to tell the story that means so much to us.”

William Bell, Alma (Doubleday Canada, 2003) 112-113

I don’t think there is much else to say on the topic; Mr Bell has summed it up so well here.

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