One of the USA ‘s finest novelists and short story writers, Joyce Carol Oates, said this in a Guardian interview in September 2004:
“I think serious art is transgressive … the more we are hurt, the more we seek solace in the imagination … our best selves, our most complex selves, are not our social selves. I consider myself a transparent personality.”
In a 1973 essay, Notes On Failure, Oates writes: “Success is distant and illusory, failure one’s loyal companion, one’s stimulus for imagining that the next book will be better, for otherwise, why write? The impulse can be made to sound theoretical, and even philosphical, but it is … as physical as our blood and marrow. ‘This insatiable desire to write something before I die, this ravaging sense of the shortness and feverishness of life, makes me cling … to my one anchor’ – so Virginia Woolf, in her diary, speaks for us all.”
Earlier this year, on the Camino between Seville and Santiago, I wrote this sonnet:
“It’s too late now. There is no turning back.
I am no saint. But sinner’s near the mark,
Counting my errors on this endless track,
Counting my failures in this endless dark.
The world is too much with us, someone said,
Nasty, brutish and short, it’s been portrayed,
A daily grind to earn our daily bread,
A pitiable, heartless, sad parade.
Surely there’s something more than grief and strife?
Some gleam of grace, some glimmer of shook foil,
Some chink of light, a glimpse of some bright life,
Before we shuffle off this mortal coil?
There’s no success like failure. Through the hail
And rain I quest, the better for to fail.”