Reading Matters

Romantic love as the stimulus to write

I once interviewed the Asheville native Gail Godwin, a UNC-Chapel Hill grad, who has lived for many years in Woodstock, N.Y. She has written a number of novels, including “Father Melancholy’s Daughter” and “The Good Husband.” Her first book of non-fiction, “Heart: A Natural History of the Heart-Filled Life,” was published in 2001.

We were talking about ambition, and what inspires it, and I asked her: “So (you think) romantic love may inspire ambition, a passion sometimes more passionate than romantic love?”

And she answered:

“There’s something perverse about artists. They will go seeking the stimulus of love. I don’t consciously go out and seek to fall in love and look for pain. But you seek an emotion that will jolt you so that you will write.

“I saw this movie about Proust. He would literally drag himself up from bed about once every six months and get dressed and go out to some gathering. He said, ‘I have to go fall in love so that I’ll have something to write about.’ ‘’