A few months ago I found myself looking at yet another post from The Paris Review, this one featuring a photo of a writer named Karl Ove Knausgaard (obviously Scandinavian). The image is of a gorgeous man with a scruffy beard and long stringy hair smoking a cigarette. The essence of Cool. But why is it we identify this sort of character as being “cool”? Does a good writer have to have an alcohol problem and be a nihilistic chain smoker?
What I’m really wondering is why are people like myself, who enjoy spending an evening knitting, accompanied by a cup of tea (well, ok, maybe a large glass of wine…but still) not considered cool? My outward persona is decidedly not the writerly type. I don’t have that edginess that the literati seem to appreciate. Without an addiction, how can I possibly have anything important to say? After a while I begin to wonder myself if I really have anything worthy to convey. Who wants to read a novel about optimism and beauty? How quaint. If I were writing a book about my life as a part-time hooker with a substance abuse problem I got as a child from being drugged up by my parents it would be a best-seller. Heaven forbid if I had a boring suburban childhood. Who wants to read about that? It’s not that my life has not been interesting, it’s just that I am not haunted by demons.
There certainly must be some noted writers who had relatively stable lives, right? Or should I start looking for more yarn?