Edna O’Brien is undoubtedly the Irish writer who made the strongest impact on me as a teenager and I have continued to admire her greatly over the years.
I suppose it’s fair to say that I idolised Edna O’Brien from the moment I read her first book The Country Girls, when I was about fifteen. The book had been banned in Ireland on its release in 1960 because it was seen to be at odds with Irish sexual morals. My mother was also a great fan of hers and The Country Girls was waiting for me in the glass-fronted bookcase that housed her favourite books.
As well as her literary talent, I loved Edna O’Brien’s style and would have given anything to share her layered locks, stunning looks, captivating voice and a courage and vulnerability that made, and continue to make, her exceptionally interesting and just plain different!
Yesterday, I was reading an Irish Times article about the now 82-year-old O’Brien http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/edna-o-brien-i-would-die-now-if-tomorrow-morning-i-could-not-write-1.1547524 and was intrigued to learn about how she ‘warms-up’ before writing:
I have to read something astonishing beforehand. Very often it is a poem, or it can be a scene from Shakespeare that is absolutely dynamic and contagious in that it gives one a longing to write something that isn’t totally a dud. (Edna O’Brien)
I just wonder how many writers, or indeed other professionals, adopt such an approach. I would have thought that reading something ‘astonishing’ would be enough to bring on a severe dose of writer’s block and a sense of ineptitude. However, it’s a practice I’m going to put on trial for a while with the hope that some of Edna O’Brien’s brilliance will rub off on me.
Is this a practice that you use or what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?