Howard Jacobson’s tip to writers -- 'Find shame and own it'

Manish Sain

Jaipur, Jan 25 (PTI) Booker Prize winning author Howard Jacobson has a tip for budding writers -- 'find your shame and own it'.

According to the British novelist, who was speaking at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) here, 'shame makes you a writer'.

'You are young, you are little, you are probably shy, quiet, and you are living more in your head than in your body, that's what makes you a writer,' the author of 'Live a Little' said.

Jacobson, 77, has over 20 works of both fiction and non-fiction to his credit. He won the Man Booker Prize for 'The Finkler Question' in 2010.

Known for his discursive and comic style of storytelling, the author said writing begins when one learns to laugh at one's shame.

'Anything that puts him off or upsets him will be a double shame to him. Out of that double shame, a particular style of writing is born, and you make fun of yourself.

'If you can make fun of yourself, you then own the experience of your shame. I learned when I was a little boy to own my shame, to embrace my shame,' Jacobson said.

In another advice, he said a writer shouldn't take themselves too seriously, and can count themselves lucky if they don't win an award early in their lives, which, he said, could be “very dangerous”.

“You shouldn't let the seriousness creep up on you. It's very important to look at yourself and laugh, you dare not take yourself seriously, it's a terrible thing.

“We all know several very famous writers... they won a big award when they were young. The worse thing that can happen to you is to do well when you are too young. It’s dangerous, because then you burn yourself out,” he said.

He added that a writer should never believe the people who say “you are terrific'. “You will know in your soul if you are a terrific writer, but you must know it on your own terms. Only you can know that,” Jacobson said. PTI MAH TRS TRS