Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bruce Springsteen on Writing


Last September Bruce Springsteen appeared with Elvis Costello for a taping of "Spectacle," Costello's talk/music show on the Sundance Channel. The show was taped at The Apollo Theater in Manhattan before a live audience. In his interview, Springsteen had more than a few words to say about writing songs. His insights are just as relevant to writing novels:

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"I’ve always believed the greatest rock and roll musicians are desperate men. You’ve got to have something bothering you all the time. My songs are good because … it’s like in art and love, hey, one and one makes three. In music, if it makes two, you’ve failed, my friends. You know, if you’re painting, if all you’ve got is your paint and your canvas, you’ve failed. If all you got is your notes, you’ve failed. You’ve got to find that third thing that you don’t completely understand, but that is truly coming up from inside of you. And you can set it any place, you can choose any type of character, but if you don’t reach down and touch that thing, then you’re just not gonna have anything to say, and it’s not gonna feel like it has life and breath in it, you’re not gonna create something real, and it’s not gonna feel authentic. So I worked hard on those things."
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Writers, what do you think about this? Do you find that "third thing" as you create your fiction? Readers, do you sense that "third thing" in novels you enjoy?

4 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

I think there is truth to that. I have a manuscript in the back of a closet that involves a grandfather who desparately longs for grandchildren. At least, that's what I hoped to accomplish with it, but there's something just not right about it because I never fully understood his motivation. I took the same story, gave it to a completely different character in a different setting, brought the motivation a little closer to home for me and the plot sings.

Margo Carmichael said...

Music, painting, dance, literature all need heart: emotion that people can relate to, and inspiration from the biggest heart of all, God's. : )

Barbara E Brink said...

Sounds like he's on drugs:)

Dineen A. Miller said...

Though he stumbles around a bit, he's dead on. My best writing has come from places of deep emotions, of pain. Those are the words that come from a common place that unite us as human beings and speak of God's power to bring good out of everything. And that's God's hope in purest form. Whether we know God or not, we all need hope.