Friday, December 08, 2006

from Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Lecture

pamuk, uncopywrited

Many of you know how much I admire the work of Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk, particularly the multi-layered Snow. His Nobel lecture, with the enticingly mysterious title "My Fahter's Suitcase didn't disappoint. All of it is wonderful, but this, in particular, left me as struck and bedazzled as certain passages in his novels:


"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. In the old stories, I love the patience of Ferhat, who digs through mountains for his love – and I understand it, too. In my novel, My Name is Red, when I wrote about the old Persian miniaturists who had drawn the same horse with the same passion for so many years, memorising each stroke, that they could recreate that beautiful horse even with their eyes closed, I knew I was talking about the writing profession, and my own life. If a writer is to tell his own story – tell it slowly, and as if it were a story about other people – if he is to feel the power of the story rise up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and patiently give himself over to this art – this craft – he must first have been given some hope. The angel of inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on others) favours the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer feels mostly lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams, and the value of his writing – when he thinks his story is only his story – it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal to him stories, images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to build. If I think back on the books to which I have devoted my entire life, I am most surprised by those moments when I have felt as if the sentences, dreams, and pages that have made me so ecstatically happy have not come from my own imagination – that another power has found them and generously presented them to me."

By the time, I read the last line about the startling gift the angel sometimes brings when you sit in your room long enough, I was almost gasping. Yes, oh yes. Sometimes that really does happen, even for ordinary waitress-writers like me.

37 comments:

rdl said...

Beautiful!!

marja-leena said...

Very inspiring reading!

tinker said...

What wonderful writing. Thank you for sharing this - which led me to read the entire translation, which was fascinating. I kept hoping he would share a quote from his father's writing, though his own is quite beautiful (of course!).

Sky said...

:) thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happens to me when I write a homily.

Amy said...

Writing itself is an act of faith.

Who among us hasn't been desperate for inspiration, or a sign to encourage us along the way?

Thank you for posting this, Patry. I intend to hang a copy next to my desk.

zhoen said...

Oh.


Yes.

zhoen said...

Do you have the link to his lecture?

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous, inspiring quote.

But the phrase that made my heart skip and made me smile was ..."even for ordinary waitress-writers like me." That was beautiful.

Tish

Tammy Vitale said...

Especially for ordinary waitress-writers, and ordinary housewives (look at Harry Potter!) and ordinary everyone...because in the end, each of us is extraordinary - the only one of us who will ever be. I did not know this writer - thank you for sharing him (and, btw, this goes for any art as well as for writing)

Patry Francis said...

r: Now you must read Snow! (I know, another one for the list.)

marja-leena: I wonder if you often feel the presence of "the angel" as an artist. From seeing your work, I sense that you do.

tinker. Oh yes. It would have been interesting to hear a little more about what was in that mysterious suitcase.

sky: Glad you enjoyed.

anon: And whenever it happens, it can be heard in the final product.

amy: "an act of faith"--that's a good perspective. I think I may hang Pamuk's quote by my desk as well.

zhoen: Good suggestion. Thanks and done.

tish: It happened this very week while I was working on the "new novel". What about for you?

Mary said...

Thank you for this, Patry.

Patry Francis said...

tammy: must have x-posted. You must have been writing that it went for art as well just as I was posing the question to Marja-leena. Synchronicity?

mary: Always good to see that bonnet around these parts.

Amishlaw said...

Why don't we read "My Name is Red" for the next Third Day Book Club? We're reading it in my reading group that meets at our house. I haven't gotten to it yet.

paris parfait said...

Yes! I love his writing, his heart, his courage and his persistence. Thank you for this.

Patry Francis said...

amishlaw: I think we have our first nomination for February 3rd!

tara: "Heart, courage, persistance"--that is the essence.

Anonymous said...

"tish: It happened this very week while I was working on the "new novel". What about for you?"

A bit. I'm only six pages in on the new children's book, so I'm still second and third guessing as I search for her voice.

Tish

MB said...

Oh yes, yes, and yes. It's the best and worst thing about writing, the leap of faith one has to make to begin, the swimming through the current of it during the act of writing, and the gifts that arrive sometimes along the way — those moments when the current carries the writer...

Patry Francis said...

tish: my guess? The voice will come this week, and it will be a torrent.

mb: I like your water imagery! It feels very right.

Anonymous said...
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Patry Francis said...

To anon. who left what looks like a 20 page diatribe on various topics unrelated to this post or blog: I don't know if this is spam, or you're really a reader, but if you have that much to say, you need to start your own blog.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

I'm so grateful you shared this, Patry! It's lovely. I'm swamped right now with life - kids, Christmas, sickness - all the usual, and my writing has dropped off to nearly nothing. Your post has brought the muse whispering back to my ear with words of hope and inspiration. Thank you!

robin andrea said...

Quite a beautiful quote. I think it is interesting, in an anthropological way, to wonder about which writers sense that their muse is external and which sense that it is internal. Would seeing a beautiful sunset and then finding the words to describe it be considered inspiration from another power? Would finding the words in one's own imagination be like sensing your own oneness with that power? Writing like yoga and prayer.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

If not for you, I would not have read this (I am off to read the whole piece) and it is something I will print out and hang next to my desk-- THANK YOU, Patry!!

~bluepoppy

KG said...

What an inspiring excerpt! And thanks for highlighting this writer and his works — I've never heard of him before and I feel fortunate for your introduction to him.

Patry Francis said...

sharon: I hear you. I've been feeling the same crunch, but the muse is known to be especially fond of new years.

r.a.: Your question reads like a poem or a prayer in itself, and I think it contains a great truth.

bluepoppy: I read these Nobel lectures every year, but this one seems particularly beautiful.

kg: Pamuk is not an easy writer, but one well worth the effort. I think you will enjoy his work.

Anonymous said...
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mai wen said...

"Sometimes that really does happen, even for ordinary waitress-writers like me."

Hey, everyone has to start somewhere! Most great writers were once ordinary waitress-writers, or something like that.

Last time I checked you were a soon-to-be published writer!!

Patry Francis said...

mai-wen: Sometimes it still doesn't feel real! Thanks for stopping by--

herhimnbryn said...

Oh pf, thankyou for bringing this to my attention. Yes, yes.

K-Oh said...

Love this, love this, love it! Thanks for posting. I'm printing the entire thing and will read it to myself in delicious bits.

ruby said...

exactly what i needed to read today.
:)

Anonymous said...
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Patry Francis said...

k-oh: I'd love to know what you think after you read the whole lecture.

herhimnbryn: Happy to be of service!

ruby: I think it's just what I need to read EVERY day!

ainelivia said...

Pamuk is such an inspiring writer. Thank you for the link patry, it's a very moving essay.

When I read it this line stays with me, " a writer is someone who looks for the second being inside" I'm not sure that's exactly how he said it though I can relate to his words.

Patry Francis said...

ainelivia: That IS an amazing line-- and one that feels so true.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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