There’s nothing called Writer?’s Block: Pulitzer-Winner Andrew Sean Greer (IANS Interview)

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Kolkata, Jan 21 (IANS) Pulitzer Prize Winner Andrew Sean Greer says there is nothing called a Writer’s Block and being attentive to surroundings is the key for writers.

“I never call it Writer’s Block because I know I have to write anyway. I write bad pages if I am feeling blocked and eventually I end up losing them which is painful. But everyday’s hard work is sort of inspirational,” Greer told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the 10th edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here.

The American, who bagged the Pulitzer for his comic novel “Less” in 2018, said he is not going to write anything on his new novel while “in India because it is too much fun here and I am taking a break”.

“But I do try to keep things in my mind and take notes because the key to it is that everything around you can go into your writing if you are paying attention,” said the author of the best-seller “The Confessions of Max Tivoli”.

Asked to share some tips for aspiring writers to keep their creativity alive, the man with six fictions in his kitty said: “I think that one should write from their weakest part and about things they are scared to share.”

He elaborated that if there is anything hard to write about oneself, it is truly about the person. So it is good to be imaginative to be able to reveal those things in writing.

“If someone says to a writer that he/she puts too many dragons in his writing, he should put a full dragon. That is my advice and one shouldn’t let people make them mediocre and become oneself,” he explained.

Geere had been writing “Less” as a tragedy and it was not really working when he actually decided to start making fun of the protagonist and while swimming one day he made up his mind to write this book as a comedy. He wanted to celebrate joy.

Asked if such recognition can be beneficial for any genre which is going out of fashion, he said: “I hadn’t thought about it, but yes it is possible that this will give courage to other writers to write literature that is a comedy or all of those things that people are bit ashamed to speak about. And especially it gives me a chance to write more on such topics.”

“Less” is about Arthur Less, a writer fleeing the humiliation of love, middle-age and failure. In his book, a character actually wins the Pulitzer Prize.

“I am confident that this is the only book which talks about Pulitzer and then actually wins it. It never occurred to me that I would actually win it,” he said.

The protagonist wears a bright blue suit for the awards which, according to Greer, symbolises his innocence and he wears it with confidence. He thought he would choose something sober for himself in real life but on a friend’s advice he “wore a red suit” for the awards as it symbolises joy.

The novel talks about love and it has a mushy happy ending and makes everyone curious if it would have any sequel.

“One will not really hear about sequels of Pulitzer Prize novels, but they do come up which is read separately. I would love to write about Arthur but as it ended on a happy note I would have to destroy his life all over again,” he said.

Asked if his novel could be termed as the gay version of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Greer replied that there is only love in his book.

“I was mostly afraid that it would be taken as yet another travelogue of a white man travelling around the world,” he said.

Writing about a gay character and dealing with all the facets, Greene said: “It is the duty to tell the truth as you see it and not just about the fantasy that the community has about itself. If you say something new, some people will get mad but you shouldn’t care”.

“Having won the prestigious award, I have a responsibility of not being arrogant and participate in any hierarchy,” he added.

(Binita Das can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)



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