February 22, 2021

"Each novel takes him around five years: a long build-up of research and thinking, followed by a speedy first draft, a process he compares to a samurai sword fight."

"'You stare at each other silently for ages, usually with tall grass blowing away and moody sky. You are thinking all the time, and then in a split second it happens. The swords are drawn: Wham! Wham! Wham! And one of them falls,' he explains, wielding an imaginary sword at the screen. 'You had to get your mind absolutely right and then when you drew that sword you just did it: Wham! It had to be the perfect cut.' As a child, he was mystified by swashbuckling Errol Flynn films when he first came to the UK, in which the sword fights consisted of actors going 'ching, ching, ching, ching, for about 20 minutes while talking to each other,' he says. 'Perhaps there’s a way of writing fiction like that, where you work it out in the act, but I tend towards the "Don’t do anything, it’s all internal" approach.'"

From "Kazuo Ishiguro: 'AI, gene-editing, big data ... I worry we are not in control of these things any more'" (The Guardian). Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017.


Temujin said...

Writing is so hard. Actual writing, not...this. I wish I had followed my heart to write when I was in my 20s. Now that I'm well into my 60s I'm finally taking the time to do it and...there's missing parts in my brain that used to be there. Parts that I believe were far more creative, and remembered the words. Parts that came up with ideas and phrasing. Seems like I forget the words now. But I plug on.

Some of the writers mentioned in this article are some of the greats that inspired me in my readings over the years. Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, even Harold Pinter, and of course, Dostoevsky. I am going to have to read Ishiguro, I have not yet. But when I read that level of literature, it just makes me aim lower. Much, much lower. Like, me and the dog on the carpet low.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

Classic Japanese sword art stuff, known in kendo as Sen Sen No Sen.


Temujin said...

And I have read about 10 books on writing over the years- by various authors. Many of them have the attitude of 'just do it'. Lay it out out there as fast as you can. Get the first draft down without worry about the craft of it. Get the story down and then work on refining it. I probably could have done that at one time. Now I find I am like Ishiguro in this respect- I have to work it out in my head first. Get much of it right in my head. Then and only then can I approach the keyboard. This is one reason why I don't sleep much.

Lucid-Ideas said...

"AI, gene-editing, big data ... I worry we are not in control of these things any more"

You sweet summer child...adorable.

rcocean said...

You just don't cut down Basil Rathbone with a few words.

rcocean said...

Don Diego Vega : I must please ask you to change the subject. His Excellency objects to talk of throat-cutting.

Captain Esteban Pasquale : Quiet, you Popinjay! I have no reason to letting you live either.

Don Diego Vega : What a pleasant coincidence. I feel exactly the same way about you Capitan.

Captain Esteban Pasquale : You wouldn't care to translate that feeling into action would you?

Don Diego Vega : I might be tempted. If I had a weapon.

Captain Esteban Pasquale : Would you.

BarrySanders20 said...

Ishiguro vs Inigo Montoya. Dueling styles.

Roughcoat said...

That's about right. I've written/published several books, and each took about 5 years from start to finish.

Narr said...

"Any more." As if we ever were in control.

Lucid beat me to it

rhhardin said...

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a scimetar, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality.

Thoreau, on the just word

narciso said...

Ive mentioned this writer in the past


narciso said...

He covers a whole span of subjects from migro economics to the science of genetics.

Narr said...

I've never written a book-- I hate writing --but I will admit that it has taken me five years to finish, or give up on, reading some books.

This is not writing

Amexpat said...

Stand out quote in the article that caught my attention:
He accepted an honorary degree from St Andrews University solely for the chance of meeting his hero: 'I would be in a green room getting dressed up in a robe with Bob Dylan!

Lurker21 said...

I wasn't crazy about The Remains of the Day. Antony Hopkins was great in the movie (Emma Thompson and James Fox were good, too), but the plot seemed like it was too crafted to make the political/moral point for me. That might not have been a big deal in past years, but nowadays, in an age of non-fiction and memoir, the way that fiction manipulates expectations, setting up characters as strawmen to fit the message the author wants to present, stands out more.

When We Were Orphans and Never Let Me Go didn't grab me either, but it's probably because most contemporary fiction really doesn't grab me. I am surprised to find out Nobelist Ishiguro wrote the screenplay for the campy and very bizarre Manitoba drama The Saddest Music in the World. Lousy movie, but I give him points for attempting such a stretch.

mikee said...

Samurai era swords are made of hard steel and softer steel, because the 15th and 16th century steel making industry in Japan produced iron dog turds, not billets of pure, high quality metal. The swords were NOT made to bang against other swords - doing so would frequently chip the sharpened blade or even break the blade into pieces. Hence the desire to slash or impale the opponent with one well-thought out, unblocked motion was due to the technology of samurai swords, as well as cultural aesthetics.

Miyamoto Musashi, nonpariel samurai, won perhaps his most famous duel using a whittled-down boat oar as his 'sword."

Hercules, not that one though said...

Heh. We've never been in control.

Dang...Lucid and Narr beat me to it.

stephen cooper said...

I have to give him credit, while his misunderstanding of cinematic sword fights is a con (he understood very well), I am mystified by hockey fights. Either they are tough guys who know how to fight, and they fight, of they are faking it, trying to look tougher than they are.

In my prime, I would have beat the crap out of Errol Flynn in something like 45 seconds, but I can't get a read on those weird hockey fights. And I live in North America, which is after all the home of hockey.