Thursday, February 25, 2010

Writing as a Crime of Passion

Usually my posts aren't exactly chatty, but I've been rereading the amazing COLOSSUS OF MAROUSI by Henry Miller. And so I feel like talking. Just yesterday I was reading it on the subway and the train to work. I told my students that it was incredible for me to reread this book. On the title page I'd written my name and below it "Corfu, 1981" which was the first time I read it.

Miller had died the previous year. It was there on Corfu that I not only discovered Greece via Miller, but I also discovered what it meant to really be in a place and absorb it and what it means to be a writer in the world. I can't think of any book that has made such a difference in my writing life. There are passages in this book that stop me dead in my tracks and I read them over and over again.

One of the things that Miller inspires in me is this thought. Writing should not be a premediated act. It should be a crime of passion. I can't say anything about more this. It is just what I feel when I read Miller, or at least when I read this particular book. If you want to read something great, read the section when he talks about going to the astronomical observatory in Athens and meditates on the role of Saturn in our lives.

And, of course, my favorite quote in the world perhaps from that book. "The wise man has no need to journey forth. Voyages are accomplished inwardly and the most hazardous, needless to say, are made without moving from the spot.

And then last night as I was leaving school I couldn't find my book. I searched my entire office and realized I'd left it somewhere between an ice coffee and my train. I am utterly bereft. Today in this snowstorm I am heading off to try and find my book at Grand Central Station. And also to get a copy at the library. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile my new friend and blogger extraordinaire Alexis Grant has a wonderful blog: Aspiring Author. And she did a nice interview with me. I talk a lot about the writing of travel memoirs, keeping journals, and just writing itself. I am sharing it here.

I hope you enjoy!


  1. Loved having you, Mary! And really like this idea of writing as a crime of passion.

  2. Hey Alexis, I liked it too! Hope it gets you/me some new readers. I may do more with this crime of passion idea...meanwhile let's chat this weekend.