Lessons from Gunter Grass: Go for broke. Be careful with your characters.
“Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings.”
It was Salman Rushdie who said:
“This is what Grass's great novel said to me in its drumbeats: Go for broke. Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before you begin talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be ruthless. Argue with the world. And never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things--childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves--that go on slipping like sand, through our fingers."
In 1991, Gunter Grass told The Paris Review:
"As a child I was a great liar. Fortunately my mother liked my lies. I promised her marvellous things. When I was ten years old she called me Peer Gynt. Peer Gynt, she said, here you are telling me marvelous stories about journeys we will make to Naples and so on . . . I started to write down my lies very early. And I continue to do so! I started a novel when I was twelve years old. It was about the Kashubians, who turned up many years later in The Tin Drum, where Oskar’s grandmother, Anna, (like my own) is Kashubian. But I made a mistake in writing my first novel: all the characters I had introduced were dead at the end of the first chapter. I couldn’t go on! This was my first lesson in writing: be careful with your characters."
Goodbye Gunter Grass who left this earth on 13 April 2015.
Go for broke. Be careful with your characters.