“To dig a well with a needle”

Just finished reading Orhan Pamuk’s  Nobel Lecture. I have been meaning to read his works for a while now and this lecture has really inspired me. Here are some excerpts: –

A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone.

My confidence comes from the belief that all human beings resemble each other, that others carry wounds like mine – that they will therefore understand. All true literature rises from this childish, hopeful certainty that all people resemble each other. When a writer shuts himself up in a room for years on end, with this gesture he suggests a single humanity, a world without a centre.

What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears : the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kind…

And finally, this turkish proverb that I have used as the title for this post :-

The writer’s secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience. That lovely Turkish saying – to dig a well with a needle – seems to me to have been said with writers in mind.

If not anything, this lecture has inspired me to start writing my dissertation, shutting myself in a room etc. 🙂

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4 Comments on ““To dig a well with a needle””

  1. KC says:

    Thanks for the welcome (if puzzling) link.
    I love the internet.
    You profess an interest in disambiguation. Is that a good thing?
    Good luck with your dissertation.

  2. krishna says:

    Hi there,
    I am currently reading orhan’s The New Life. It is good. just in case you want to check out 🙂

  3. thanks for dropping by my blog KC and Krishna.

    KC: I would say disambiguation is probably not good for completing my dissertation! 🙂 I like your postings, I must confess I dont quite “get” all of it though.

    Krishna: I might just do that! 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Govind says:

    Finished the “My Name is Red” by the same author. It was written in different style, pretty much like the viewpoint of each actor carried through small interleaving threads. It is actually a racy thriller albeit set quite some centuries back. His description of the miniature paintings and ability to just take there was what left with me for long time as if he has window into that world. Looking forward to “presents” – with specific instructions for “Budhha” – by osamu tezuka. I purchased vol4 and got hooked. Try it when you get time.


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