Friday, 10 June 2011

Inspiration and Other Writers

What inspires you as a writer?

I find the lives of other writers fascinating. Especially the famous ones. I recently revisited The Hours - the movie based on Michael Cunningham's novel about three women: author Virginia Woolf, whose novel Mrs Dalloway influences the lives of the other two. Virginia Woolf is played by Nicole Kidman (in a bizarre prosthetic nose) but the film is so well crafted it hardly matters. Woolf certainly suffered for her art, and that comes across loud and clear. The opening scene shows her terrible suicide in haunting detail.

Then there's Prick Up Your Ears, again a tragic tale of the life and too early death of playwright Joe Orton. Based on the excellent biography by John Lahr the film is another well crafted piece with sparklingly witty dialogue by Alan Bennett worthy of Orton himself. It charts his humble beginnings, long apprenticeship and final triumphant success and recognition cut tragically short by murder. I've watched this film many times.

Another is Sylvia, the story of poet Sylvia Plath. This isn't the best biopic I've ever seen but it does convey the passion and vulnerability of the subject. Plath's consuming love for fellow poet Ted Hughes ultimately drove her to suicide when their marriage fell apart.
Notice a recurring theme here? Sure, it could be that tragic ends are just the kind of romantic fodder Hollywood loves and not all writers live life on the edge. But there is something fascinating about the tragedy and the artist. Perhaps that's why the romantic notion persists.

Which writers have inspired you?


Writer Pat Newcombe said...

I agree it's so tragic - these lives cut short... Who knows what they might have gone on to do? I hadn't heard of the first film. I m ust get it. Love the bog btw - I will follow with interest.

Sandra Patterson said...

Ooh, thanks very much, Pat. Glad you like it.

Rosalie Warren said...

I love the novels of Richard Yates (author of Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, etc) and enjoyed reading his biography, 'A Tragic Honesty', by Blake Bailey. Yates didn't kill himself but he struggled with mental health problems and with life in general - but he never stopped writing.

Sandra Patterson said...

Haven't read Yates, Rosalie, but I'll look out for those ones you mention.