Tag Archives: John Banville

No longer all at sea.

Book Club on BBC Radio 4, presented by James Naughtie, is a once a month programme that I like to listen to, when at home.

On Sunday 06 April 2014, Irish writer John Banville discussed his novel The Sea which won the Man Booker prize in 2005.

In this episode which will be repeated on Thursday at 15.30, I was more taken by the way the author spoke about his process of writing, than about the book itself.

John Banville explained how he painstakingly writes his novels over many years, creating sentence after sentence. He trusts the sentence. He writes by the sentence. He does not write by the paragraph or the chapter. If he gets one sentence right it will lead on to the next one.

He said “The sentence is the greatest invention of humankind. The sentence is what makes us human, it is what we think with, what we devise with, what we declare love with, what we declare war with, it is the essence of us”.

He is pleased with the way he handles time, He does it without trying, it happens and it works, he trusts his instincts.

Those two points struck a chord with me.

Everything I have read up until now, about writing, spoke of structures, outlines, beginnings, middles and ends. Never before had I come across a mention of working sentence by sentence.

It is the way I have always worked, be it a letter, an email, a blog post or a story.

I wanted to re-listen to the programme to make sure I had heard correctly on Sunday. Tonight was the first opportunity I had to do so, and it was as if someone had given me the winning lottery numbers…..

Thank you John Banville for the boost in confidence to keep plugging on.