‘Later on it has changed so that I have actually managed to complete a few books. But between them are periods of complete inability to create. It has taxed me more than anything else â€“ often I have believed that I would break during such a period. Surely I will one day â€“ unless the years dull and slow my senses so that an even worse destiny than this awaits me.
During these periods I have always thought that my inner self is in a state of a kind of hibernation. It is not present for me, I am separated from it. I cannot tell how painful it is to â€˜liveâ€™ like this. Almost everything seems meaningless, I cannot concentrate on anything. The ability to experience desolateness which is so pronounced in me and which so often is expressed in my writing, exercises a terrible reign during these times. But during these times the adjustments inside me, which are required for something new to be born, take place, I think. The unconscious creates on its own, in a fashion unfathomable to me. I have often had a feeling of this secret process, these adjustments â€“ I cannot find a better word for it, for how it feels. But to imagine that it is sweet and â€˜bigâ€™ to be part of this â€˜rejuvenationâ€™, if you can call it that, would be a total mistake. Not even the slightest joy or sense of pleasure is associated with the inaccessible process, just a definite, painful disquiet and a deep feeling of complete mental powerlessness.
The amiable idea that it must be â€˜delightfulâ€™ to be a writer has little to do with reality, at least as far as I am concerned.â€™
PÃ¤r Lagerkvist (1891-1974), Swedish author, scriptwriter, poet and novelist, Noble prize laureate 1951.
From an unfinished autobiographical sketch.
trsl. Linda Olsson