Intervju za „Parisku reviju“: Doris Lesing

Engleska spisateljica Doris Lesing u intervjuu datom američkom magazinu „Pariska revija“ govorila je o detinjstvu provedenom u Africi, o saradnji sa kompozitorom Filipom Glasom, kao i o svojim spisateljskim navikama i ritualima. Jedan sasvim nov uvid u autorku romana „Zlatna beležnica“, „Memoari preživele“, „Peto dete“, „Alfred i Emili“, „Leto pre sumraka“, kao i mnogobrojnih pripovedaka i čak dve posebne knjige memoara.

INTERVIEWER

Do you work on more than one fictional thing at a time?

LESSING

No, it’s fairly straight. I do sometimes tidy up a draft of a previous thing while I’m working on something else. But on the whole I like to do one thing after another.

INTERVIEWER

Are you producing fairly continuously? Do you take a break between books?

LESSING

Yes! I haven’t written in quite a while. Sometimes there are quite long gaps. There’s always something you have to do, an article you have to write, whether you want to or not. I’m writing short stories at the moment. It’s interesting, because they’re very short. My editor, Bob Gottlieb, said, quite by chance, that no one ever sends him very short stories, and he found this interesting. I thought, “My God, I haven’t written a very short story for years.” So I’m writing them around 1,500 words, and it’s good discipline. I’m enjoying that. I’ve done several, and I think I’m going to call them “London Sketches,” because they’re all about London.

INTERVIEWER

Do you have regular working habits?

LESSING

It doesn’t matter, because it’s just habits. When I was bringing up a child I taught myself to write in very short concentrated bursts. If I had a weekend, or a week, I’d do unbelievable amounts of work. Now those habits tend to be ingrained. In fact, I’d do much better if I could go more slowly. But it’s a habit. I’ve noticed that most women write like that, whereas Graham Greene, I understand, writes two hundred perfect words every day! So I’m told! Actually, I think I write much better if I’m flowing. You start something off, and at first it’s a bit jagged, awkward, but then there’s a point where there’s a click and you suddenly become quite fluent. That’s when I think I’m writing well. I don’t write well when I’m sitting there sweating about every single phrase.

INTERVIEWER

What kind of a reader are you these days? Do you read contemporary fiction?

LESSING

I read a great deal. I’m very fast, thank God, because I could never cope with it otherwise. Writers get sent enormous amounts of books from publishers. I get eight or nine or ten books a week which is a burden, because I’m always very conscientious. You do get a pretty good idea of what a book’s like in the first chapter or two. And if I like it at all, I’ll go on. That’s unfair, because you could be in a bad mood, or terribly absorbed in your own work. Then there are the writers I admire, and I’ll always read their latest books. And, of course, there’s a good deal of what people tell me I should read. So I’m always reading.

INTERVIEWER

Did you ever do any of those sixties’ experiments with hallucinogens, that sort of thing?

LESSING

I did take mescaline once. I’m glad I did, but I’ll never do it again. I did it under very bad auspices. The two people who got me the mescaline were much too responsible! They sat there the whole time, and that meant, for one thing, that I only discovered the “hostess” aspect of my personality, because what I was doing was presenting the damn experience to them the whole time! Partly in order to protect what I was really feeling. What should have happened was for them to let me alone. I suppose they were afraid I was going to jump out of a window. I am not the kind of person who would do such a thing! And then I wept most of the time. Which was of no importance, and they were terribly upset by this, which irritated me. So the whole thing could have been better. I wouldn’t do it again. Chiefly because I’ve known people who had such bad trips. I have a friend who took mescaline once. The whole experience was a nightmare that kept on being a nightmare—people’s heads came rolling off their shoulders for months. Awful! I don’t want that.

INTERVIEWER

Do you travel a great deal?

LESSING

Too much; I mean to stop.

INTERVIEWER

I hear you’ve been working on a “space opera” with Philip Glass.

LESSING

What happens to books is so astonishing to me! Who would have thought The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 would turn into an opera? I mean it’s so surprising!

INTERVIEWER

How did that come about?

LESSING

Well, Philip Glass wrote to me, and said he’d like to make an opera, and we met.

INTERVIEWER

Had you known much of his music before?

LESSING

Well, no I hadn’t! He sent some of his music. It took quite a bit of time for my ears to come to terms with it. My ear was always expecting something else to happen. You know what I mean? Then we met and we talked about it, and it went very well, which is astonishing because we couldn’t be more different. We just get on. We’ve never had one sentence worth of difficulty over anything, ever. He said the book appealed to him, and I thought he was right, because it’s suitable for his music. We met, usually not for enormous sessions, a day here and a day there, and decided what we would do, or not do. I wrote the libretto.

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