Helen Garner is one of my absolute favourite writers. I mainly love her non-fiction, but her fiction is sparsely beautiful and real and haunting. If I could be half the writer she is, I’d be happy. She has a new novel coming out on April 7 (her first since 1992), called The Spare Room, and there’s an interview with her in today’s Spectrum, though SMH doesn’t seem to have it online. As my own fiction writing usually draws on my own life (much as Garner’s does), I found this comment of hers extremely sane and encouraging:
I don’t know where people think writing comes from. People talk as if a story is something lying on the ground that you pick up and dust off and put in a book. But material isn’t a story, it’s a mess, a cloudy series of events or experiences. On every page there’s a thousand tiny decisions about how you’re going to tell it. And once you’ve written something, you can’t even remember which bits ‘really happened’ and which bits you made up. . .What any writer does who is fired by their own experience is open up an enormous space behind their own experience, where all the rest of the world can flood in and everyone else’s experiences, too.