Norman Maclean Transcript


A pre-condition is solitude. Now that goes not just for writers. I’m talking about creative football players kicking a ball against a wall, you know, back and forward, back and forward. Um, enforced solitude, which isn’t perhaps the best psychological foundation for a happy life, but it actually leads to quite good writing at times, I think. That, that, that might sound like heresy to many people, you know, but there is no doubt in my mind that, uh, if you’ve got guys who are writing, psychologically and emotionally they’re pretty, pretty dodgy, pretty “cugallach” (precarious/unstable), you know.

Um, I happen to be one myself, you know, but I, I’m sure that applies to many other ones. Think around the guys that you admire, uh, whether as boxers, or goalkeepers, or writers, and I think you’ll find somewhere in the background a kind of shutting off from the rest of humanity.

Uh, the only thing I can say in the way of encouraging creative writing is – go ahead and do it. Go ahead and do it. But, um, that is my, kind of, revelation about the creative impulse. I think it’s born of long periods of solitude.

And I believe that the, the drink and the, the dissipation and all the bad things that happened to me happened because psychologically I was unsound. Emotionally I was pretty weak too. I would have been – in another culture I would have been a heroin addict or certainly would be into crack cocaine, you know, had I been brought up somewhere else, um, because I’m a, kind of, ideal profile for a crack cocaine user – someone who’s on the periphery of both societies, English and Gaelic. On the periphery, not quite belonging in either one, uh, who has somehow swallowed the ideas that I think are pernicious in our society today – individualism, uh, competition. I think a lot of harm comes from these, but they’re generally appreciated.

“Oh, he’s an individualist, oh, very competitive”, they say it, you know, salivating. I think a lot of harm – well, I was – I inherited these values, individualism and competitiveness, and it did me no good at all. Had I been in a crack cocaine culture I would have succumbed within a month, and I’d be selling pencils in the street within half a year. But it was the Scotch whisky and all that stuff.

But, um, if I’d started earlier I would have a truer idea of my inner self, and when you know who you are, when you get in touch with yourself, you then have choices.

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