Skip to Content

‘A damned-up desire to write’

13 September 2004

'If you are a writer, you are aware that out there there is a dammed-up desire to write. Everyone wants to do it (everyone in London N1 anyway). Sometimes this urge to self-expression is confused with the desire for a change of lifestyle or the need for therapy. But the myth endures that writing novels is going to make you rich, successful and fulfilled. In fact what makes good writing, I have come to believe, is a compulsion to try to reach the essence of things, what Banville calls pure ideas and unmediated expression. It's a doomed task, but the closer to the essence of things the writer gets, the closer he edges towards literature.'

Justin Cartwright, author of The Promise of Happiness, in the Independent on Sunday.