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No time for the day job

india Updated: May 12, 2008 23:09 IST

Hindustan Times
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Shobhaa de and Chetan Bhagat, hear this and take comfort. You don’t have to have the Nobel Prize as a must-have on your mantel-pieces. In fact, you should proactively resist getting the Big One. Grand Dame of Literature and Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing certainly thinks so. Not too long after she won the Nobel for Literature last year and stated that winning it was “astonishing and amazing” and that it completed a “royal flush”, Lessing now thinks that the prize is a “bloody disaster”.

Why? Because she thinks that ever since she got the prize, her time has been taken up by negotiating with the media. What makes her bang her head against the wall is the fact that her writing has stopped as, after tackling journalists and photographers, she doesn’t have the “energy any more” to do her ‘day job’. Does that sound like the alibi of a writer stricken with a case of writer’s bloc? We don’t think so. Considering Lessing’s output has been nothing less than prolific — 50 novels, many many short stories, a two-volume autobiography as well as plays — we’d rather believe her statement that the Nobel can be crippling for a writer. It’s not as if the 88-year-old is one of those types who has a probable with recognition and the benefits that comes with prizes like the Nobel. She has spent a large amount of the £ 775,000 on her extended family. But it’s the business of not being able to write because of all the post-Nobel publicity that has got her goat.

Quite a different perspective from that of other writers — especially of those whom we’ve not heard of because of their non-appearance on Page 3s. Or, come to think of it, even some writers who write for one main reason: to be splashed in the media.