Writing is an Unhappy Calling

In a 1955 interview with The Paris Review, Georges Simenon (1903-1985) said the one bit of writing advice he found useful was from a literary editor of Le Matin. “She said, ‘Look, it is too literary, always too literary.” So I followed her advice. Adjectives, adverbs, and every word which is there just to make an effect. Every sentence which is there just for the sentence. You know, you have a beautiful sentence–cut it.”

Simenon went on to say, “Writing is considered a profession, and I don’t think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.” Simenon believed that the urge to work as an artist came from the need to find oneself. Writers, he said, try to find themselves through their characters.

Simenon was a prolific Belgian author of mysteries and pyschological novels, well known of his Inspector Maigret. His birthday was today, February 13, 1903.