The Paris Review has an interview with Alice Munro; I think from an older issue (because it doesn’t mention her 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature), but it popped up in my feed today, and I hadn’t seen it before. In any case, I enjoyed it so much that I have tweeted it twice and am now blogging about it here. She says many interesting things about the work itself; the part that resonated most strongly for me is posted below. I find it deeply comforting to see someone so accomplished and prolific acknowledging the fragility of her own confidence. And I love the idea that being an introvert, or simply unsocial, can be an asset — to anyone, really, but especially to a writer.
MUNRO: In writing, I’ve always had a lot of confidence, mixed with a dread that this confidence is entirely misplaced. I think in a way that my confidence came just from being dumb. Because I lived so out of any mainstream, I didn’t realize that women didn’t become writers as readily as men, and that neither did people from a lower class. If you know you can write fairly well in a town where you’ve hardly met anyone else who reads, you obviously think this is a rare gift indeed.
INTERVIEWER: You’ve been a master at steering clear of the literary world. Has this been conscious or largely circumstantial?
MUNRO: It certainly was circumstantial for a long time, but then became a matter of choice. I think I’m a friendly person who is not very sociable. Mainly because of being a woman, a housewife, and a mother, I want to keep a lot of time. It translates as being scared of it. I would have lost my confidence. I would have heard too much talk I didn’t understand.
INTERVIEWER: So you were glad to be out of the mainstream?
MUNRO: This is maybe what I’m trying to say. I probably wouldn’t have survived very well otherwise. It may have been that I would lose my confidence when I was with people who understood a lot more than I did about what they were doing. And talked a lot about it. And were confident in a way that would be acknowledged to have a more solid basis than mine. But then, it’s very hard to tell about writers—who is confident?