“What gets in the way of writing is having to use words.”
I’m so happy to see Clarice Lispector here with such kind words. She is one of the most brilliant writers in Brazil. Caio Fernando Abreu - another amazing brazilian writer- once had a quick casual meeting with her. It was the first time he saw her in person. Later, he made a curious description about Clarice in a letter to his friend Hilda Hilst - brazilian poet:
“She is exactly like her books: she conveys a strange sensation, of impressive wisdom and bitterness. She's slow and hardly speaks. She has hypnotic, almost diabolical eyes. And you feel that she no longer expects anything from anything or anyone, that she is absolutely alone and at such a height that no one could ever reach her. Many people must find her extremely unlikable, but I found her beautiful, profound, strange and dangerous."
This letter is included in the book “Três vezes Hilda: biografia, correspondências e poesia (2018). Not sure if this was launch in English.
“The thing you’re ‘saying’ is not the thing you’re saying—it is behind it, or within it—but it also can’t be ‘said’ in any other way. And then, so often, after a work is done, the author is asked to explain it! And there is no explanation; there is just the thing itself.”
This was so helpful for me in terms of understanding why some find writing so difficult while I typically don’t.
Its that I have a totally opposite experience of the relationship between what is written and the “thing” that is being written about. For me, the “thing” only comes into existence when it is articulated in words. Before that there is just a vagueness. It’s my words that give it substance. It is what I say it is. So I can’t go wrong.
I realize there are a lot of problems underlying this POV, but that is what the process FEELS like to me, and I think that is why I seldom get stuck.
I imagine this and your experience are just two of many possibilities. It’s fun to look at them!
When I was in Mexico City in June, I also became obsessed with her book of letters (and tried to talk myself out of buying it by reminding myself of all the other books I was reading).
Thank you! I loved Lispector’s stories when I was a student. I just gave this title to my partner so he can surprise me with it for my birthday. It sounds divine.
This made me laugh because I was also drawn to buying Too Much of Life despite having some unread Lispector already on my shelf! That book is irresistible, though... I got the cerise pink Penguin edition (UK). Enjoyed reading this piece.
I have a tattoo of Clarice's caricature. She was really important in shaping my life growing up
Your newsletter is forever a treasure trove of insights and fascinating creators, thank you! I'd never heard of the genre before. You learn something new each issue.
Loved learning about “crônicas”! 🧡 I wonder if it could translate to “chronicles”?
Truly a great. I have read every book she has written. Including many of her Cronicas. In ways, she reminds me of Nietzsche.
Now that sounds like such a lovely hour at a bar! And her words on writing and silence are just perfect!
Enjoyed reading this. Have you read An Apprenticeship? I discovered this book of hers this summer and have been obsessed with her since!
I love the idea of a “piggy bank”!
This was beautiful to read 🙏🏽
I have this book. Penguin published it here. It’s great isn’t it and such a massive beast of a book 😂
Really really enjoyed this. Embarrassingly, I hadn’t heard of Clarice Lispector, my failing of course. I am now super curious and off to learn more. That book looks a beauty. Thank you.
As a songwriter, I understand. The song comes and I write it, but it’s the essence and feeling behind or between the words and music.