When Inspiration Strikes! from Hunger by Knut Hamsun

by |June 21, 2010

All at once, one or two remarkable sentences occurred to me, good for a short story or a sketch, windfalls in language as good as I had ever come on. I lay saying the words over and over to myself and decided they were excellent. Soon several other sentences joined the two; instantly I was wide awake, stood up, and took paper and pencil from the table at the foot of my bed. It was like a vein opening, one word followed the other, arranged themselves in right order, created situations; scene piled on scene, actions and conversations welled up in my brain, and a strange sense of pleasure took hold of me. I wrote as if possessed, and filled one page after the other without a moments pause. Thoughts poured in so abruptly, and kept on coming in such a stream, that I lost a number of them from not being able to write them down fast enough, even though I worked with all my energy. They continued to press themselves on me; I was deep into the subject, and every word I set down came from somewhere else.

The session lasted a wonderfully long time before it ended! I had fifteen, twenty pages lying on my knees in front of me when I finally stopped and laid the pencil down. Now if those pages were only worth anything. I was saved! I leaped out of the bed and dressed. It grew more and more light, and I could half_way make out the Chief of the Lighthouses’ message down by the door; near the window there was already enough light to write by, if one had to. I started immediately making a clean copy. (from Hunger by Knut Hamsun)

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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