Roddy Doyle and the mindset of the writer

Roddy DoyleFor anyone interested in Irish writing, today’s Irish Times is a hell of an investment.

There’s a full-page excerpt from Julian Gough’s recently published Kindle Single Crash! How I Lost a Hundred Billion and Found True Love, honorary Irish writer Molly McCloskey reviews a new book of essays on artists and writers by Janet Malcolm, Gabriel Byrne reviews Roddy Doyle’s new novel The Guts and there’s an extensive interview with Doyle himself by Patrick Freyne.

It’s Freyne’s interview that prompts this blog. Doyle has always been candid in calling out the bullshit when he smells it, and he’s at it again in places here, while there are also fascinating recollections of The Commitments’ creative…

I drove the guy in the next room demented as I replayed an old tape … It’s so much easier with iTunes

… and publishing processes:

The whole shebang would cost about the same [to self-publish] as a second-hand car. My wife was the publicist, my students were on the cover … There was very little fiction being published here then, so it got reviewed in all the papers

Possibly the most striking thing about the whole interview, and something I hadn’t heard Doyle speak about before, was the way he got to writing in the first place.

[Having started a job as a teacher] I was living on my own, with no responsibilities, a bit of money for the first time in my life and three months off in summer. I went to London to get away from my friends, got a bedsit and went to Wood Green library and wrote every day.

Leaving the country to get away from his friends. I’m sure this is a level of dedication that is fatally lacking in many aspirant writers. To write well, you can’t have everything else too. To write well, you probably can’t have much of anything else at all.

I recall the words of an intense, inconsistent and inspiring creative writing tutor, when asked about whether writers needed to be dissatisfied, unhappy.

If you’re happy, why write?

Patrick Freyne’s interview with Roddy Doyle is here

The Guts is published by Jonathan Cape

7 thoughts on “Roddy Doyle and the mindset of the writer

  1. ‘For anyone interested in Irish writing, today’s Irish Times is a hell of an investment.’ Was thinking the same. Got through two large coffees without looking up (what children?…). Thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Nuala. I paid for my Saturday reading time on Sunday. The Sunday Times is still neatly piled up like the doorstop that it is. It’s my aim to at least get the TV listings read before they go out of date…

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