One Good Idea

A well-known writer friend (11 novels to her name) recently mentioned that she doesn’t blog (despite publicists urging her to do so) because, so she claims, she only has one good idea every three-fours years and she doesn’t want to waste it on a blog.  This got me thinking that many terrific writers seem in fact to have the same good idea every three-four years.  Seriously, isn’t a good two-thirds of Margaret Atwood’s work, and all of her earlier stuff, about isolation?  Not in the survival, lonely Canadian winter sense, but the person just on the fringe of mainstream society with a bit of feminist angst sense.  Someone like Anne Tyler meanwhile always – everything I’ve ever read by her at any rate – writes about the “hidden” depths, mysteries of everyday people.  And really, could Graham Greene have had any more struggles with his faith?  But the more I think about it, the more OK I’m with that.  If a writer does a particular theme well, and it’s obviously of interest to him/her, and the theme is rich enough, why not keep going back to the well?  As a reader I even take a certain comfort from that.  Sure it’s nice to have a book full of surprises, but sitting down with a good writer struggling with a certain known idea can be like comfort food.  So could you please pass me some Nick Hornby?

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