James Lipton

Mr. Lipton turns to Andre Gide and Mike Nichols for some inspiriation.

on Sep 28, 2009

I recall, from some distance (it’s been years since I read the book), an observation by Gide which has influenced me profoundly, and which I paraphrase here (without Gide’s inimitable gifts). What Gide is telling us is that he is never happier than when he becomes less writer than reader, when the characters, enchained in their own dialectic, seize the reins from him and gallop off in entirely unexpected directions, saying and doing things that amuse him, touch him, surprise him, even dismay him – with Gide running as fast as he can to keep up and record these utterly unexpected words and occurrences.

I doubt that there’s a writer in the world, neophyte or master, who wouldn’t say amen to that. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the writer’s probably on the right track.

So…back to my blank page – which isn’t blank anymore! It happened, just as Uncle Edouard – and Gide – said it would. Gide, bless his soul, wrestled the keyboard out of my hands and gave me the subject of this blog: the creative act, barely significant in my case and monumentally important in Gide’s. But the process is the same.