Novelist Seán McGrady’s new book, The Bastard Pleasure, is just out in the world–so we thought it’d be a good time to publish his answer to our 2paragraphs interview question: What do you like least about being a writer?
“…one has to do something or perish…” Sammy Beckett wrote to a friend when his writing was nothing more than a grind. Not mere writer’s block. Writing is a dangerous business relatively and absolutely. It can be writing for your life. Writing something, anything, then, is all that stands in the way of a profound literary death, maybe even death itself. The grand grind may be a saviour in some respects, preserving a degree of expressive power, but it is also what is feared in these quarters, the despair of the dreadful, enduring unbeing and unbecoming of the “white-heated” word. Only the worthless prose comes forth, an uncreative cold corpse of a composition. Decomposition. We know the signs. Such writing continually misses the target, it is empty and tortuous. Out of the mind’s inadequacy emerges the modal march to the beat of a slow, plodding imagination in a confused consciousness that can only lead to a special sadness. And soon all about is covered in sadness and the separation of the writer with himself. A distinct sense of captivity and an alienation from the source of inspiration prevails. An awareness of being overwhelmed. The literary form of sin.
Give your head a rest, it will return of its own accord, you’ll tell yourself. But will it? Will it even if we will it? What is written in sleep, and scribbled in the darkness never turns out, if you can read it, to be the success it was in slumber. It is a dreadful dawn when all you have is external and internal disarray. Doubt sometimes describes it, but doubt is ambiguous, it points one way threatening destruction, another promising deliverance. All order collapses as all energies are devoted to the resurrection of the readable. What favours a return to fulfillment, to participation? Wherein lies deliverance? Questioning philosophically to dispel the despair. Spiritually it is freedom in hope. Favoured books are pulled from shelves and piled precariously around the writing area. Metaphysics is my inspiration, there is nothing quite like the coming-to-be in the mind of a common notion. Philosophy is the foundation of my fiction, and sooner or later Spinoza, Leibniz, or Deleuze will pick me up and drop me off near enough to the locale where I last lost my bearings. Miscellaneous notes preserved in old moleskins at the ready. Beckett relied heavily on philosophical questioning to release the creative “white heat”. Murphy chapter six is evidence of this.