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The 8 most surprising things Doris Lessing said about writing

The prolific, visionary and unfailingly opinionated Nobel Laureate and author of over 55 written works is gone at the age of 94. Here is a look back at some of the most surprising, candid, irascible and downright terrific things Doris Lessing has said about writing over the years. 

“I like to think that if someone’s read a book of mine, they've had… the literary equivalent of a shower. Something that would start them thinking in a slightly different way perhaps. That’s what I think writers are for. This is what our function is.”

-“Doris Lessing: The Art of Fiction no. 102” interviewed by Thomas Frick, The Paris Review, Spring 1987
“I'm very unhappy when I'm not writing. I need to write. I think it's possibly some kind of psychological balancing mechanismbut that's not only true for writers... anybody. I think that we're always just a step away from lunacy anyway, and we need something to keep us balanced.”

“Everything you write is altered in some way.”
“I think actually, you write from here somewhere. In your solar plexus. If you're going to start examining everything you write—I mean, ‘My God, that's that message, and that’
then you wouldn't be able to write anything." 

-NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS, January 24, 2003 
“Ever since [The Golden Notebook] I've had a certain attitude about reviewers. It is possible for them to not be very bright.”

“I don't think it's a good idea for writers to sit around worrying if they're going to get prizes or not.”

-Barnes and Noble Author Chat, August 23, 2000 
“We didn't think then the way people think now, that if you write a book you have to get a lot of money… we just took it for granted we wouldn't have much money, and it didn't bother us particularly.”

“A writer falls in love with an idea and gets carried away. A critic looks at the finished product and ignores the rush of a river that went into the writing, which has nothing to do with the kind of temperate thoughts you have about it. If you can imagine the sheer bloody pleasure of having an idea and taking it! It's one of the great pleasures in my life. My god, an idea!”

-Harvey Blume, "Q&A: Doris Lessing," The Boston Globe, August 5, 2007 

Doris Lessing was the 1985 Massey Lecturer. Listen to her talk "Prisons We Choose to Live Inside" on the CBC Ideas website »


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