Two comments stood out for me at the second Salon organised by Dun Laoghaire writer-in-residence Selina Guinness (4th November). Susan Tomaselli, editor of the fabulous Gorse literary journal, had invited Joanna Walsh and Claire Louise Bennett to join her on the panel. Selina Guinness and her guests covered a lot of ground, but these two remarks struck me forcibly enough that I’ll just put them in front of you and let them speak for themselves.
1: In answer to SG’s statement that her writing resists definition, in itself quite a rebellious act, JW said ‘Plot doesn’t interest me, it seems to stop you looking at things.’ (But there is structure, as well as antistructure, in her writing.)
2: CLB came to writing through theatre, which enabled her to ‘explore things in a non-cerebral way’. During the rehearsal process, she said, you are trying to assemble a person who is believable – ‘as a process, it’s vulgar, really, and not very enjoyable. So much of what we do is about either persuading someone of something or refusing to be persuaded – then that becomes the objective. I began to wonder: why is that so important? Why should it matter to me? I don’t care if you don’t believe me.’
For the writers among you, these statements have seismic potential:
Plot stops you looking at things.
Much of what we do (In life? As writers?) is about either persuading someone of something or refusing to be persuaded.