Writer’s Quote Wednesday – John Banville

Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s midweek, and if you find yourself running low on inspiration, I suggest you check out Colleen at Silver Threading for her Writer’s Quote Wednesday event. For my contribution this week, I have chosen a quote from John Banville.

William John Banville mainly writes under the name John Banville, but sometimes he uses the name Benjamin Black. He’s an Irish novelist, an adapter of dramas, and a screenwriter. He was born in December of 1945 in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked as a garage clerk, and his mother worked in the home.

untitledAs a novelist, Banville is a master stylist of English and is famous for the difficulty of reading his works. His books are said to be “like baroque cathedrals, filled with elaborate passages and sometimes overwhelming to the casual tourist.” Banville has said he is committed to language and rhythm above all else, including plot, characterization, and pacing. He is precise, cold, and his humor is dark. He is considered to be “one of the most imaginative literary novelists writing in the English language today.”

When he writes as Benjamin Black, he plays it a little more loosely. He refers to Black as “the rouge” and seems to play this identity against his own.

His wife has described him during the writing process as being like “a murderer who’s just come back from a particularly bloody killing”. Sounds intense!

Banville is the youngest of three siblings, all of which are also published authors. His brother Vincent writes under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister, Vonnie Banville-Evans, has written a children’s novel and a novel about growing up in Wexford.

Banville also has a strong interest in animal rights. He’s often shown in Irish media speaking out against vivisection (performing operations on live animals for experiments or research) in Irish universities.

“For a writer every day is a nervous breakdown.”

— John Banville

I still don’t consider myself to be a real writer yet but if having a nervous breakdown is the criteria than yeah, I’m definitely a writer.

Every day I panic thinking about what I am going to say. I scramble all day to think of interesting topics. After that, I scramble to put one word after another in a way that both makes sense and is entertaining. People who don’t write do not understand how hard that is. They don’t understand how nerve-wracking it can be.

Every day I feel like a failure. I either don’t come up with anything that feels like a good idea, or I do, but I can’t put the words together, or maybe I put some word together, but it sounds like crap. It’s hard feeling like you are failing at the thing you love doing the most, and yet, you cannot stop doing that thing. It’s mind-boggling!

Every day I feel like a fake. Like I said, I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t know when I will ever feel like one. Maybe after I actually get a thing published it will start to sink in. I know, I know, a writer is nothing more than someone who writes but what I do just feels so small and trivial that I feel bad even using the term “writing” to describe it.

Every day spent trying to write something is a day I have a nervous breakdown. I imagine it must be worse when you finally get some fans/followers. Even now there is some pressure to impress the few readers I have but the pressure that comes with having a good sized audience must be soul crushing.

But even then, we writers have this drive to keep doing that thing that we love. We can never stop writing, which means we will never stop having nervous breakdowns.

P.S. If you have some time to spare I encourage you to check out the interview with him from the Paris Review.


4 Replies to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday – John Banville”

  1. This was stupendous! “…like baroque cathedrals, filled with elaborate passages and sometimes overwhelming to the casual tourist…” it is pure poetry in his words! The quote hit home for me too. WOW! You nailed it again, Lisa! <3 Now quit thinking you are a fake! <3 Fake it till you make it! :D


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