Fans of Twigga please donate seriously because now is the time to donate!
Full list of articles
« vodka corrupts | Main | Catastrophe theory of feeling really rather good »

the pearl

Everyone knows it's the grit that seeds the pearl within the oyster. It applies to life- grit in the form of irritants and things we cannot avoid help us to grow. But it also applies to art, or at least making new things such as books. It's hard to start from scratch. Most books are improvements, variations or disguised copies of earlier books. You need grit to start- and this is often some piece of unwelcome experience that, like grit, is indigestible. Writers come to cherish their hard upbringing- look at Dickens and the way he mined the blacking factory where he worked aged 12 (even naming Fagin after his fellow worker Bob Fagin). The bad experience, the emotional dumdum bullet, the scars of childhood and adolescence- all this is grit. It won't go away so the artist weaves a web around it to make it beautiful. But the cost is obvious: sane ordinary folk have less grit to work with. That's where the traditional grit comes in. Modern grit is indigestible experience. Ancient grit come in the form of stories, narratives, myths, legends, yarns, details, journeys, odd facts, snatches of dialogue. All that is sharp, pithy and irreducible, just like grit, can be the starting point for creating something new. Joyce and Eliot used old myths as their grit. Detective story writers use the form of the mystery story as theirs. Shakespeare worked from potted histories and biographies that today would be considered children's reading material. In fact kid's books- both fact and fiction- are a great source of grit. They can provide that kick start, that tiny push, that require ounce of shove to get you going, bowling along in fact.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend