Author, painter talks about creative process
Jan. 28, 2016 at 11:15 p.m.
Updated Jan. 29, 2016 at midnight
Rikki Ducornet's journey from being predominately a painter to novelist began during the mid-1970s.
"I found myself writing all night," said Ducornet, 72, who was living in Canada at the time. "I found myself suddenly published, and for the first time in my life, I felt I had found something I needed to do all the time."
Political unrest around the world in the 1970s such the Chilean coup d'etat and the fascist takeover of Greece motivated her to pick up a pen as well as a paintbrush.
Ducornet gave a reading from her novel "Brightfellow" as the American Book Review's 86th speaker. This year mark's the literary magazine's tenth anniversary, said Jeffrey DiLeo, UHV Dean of Arts and Sciences and ABR publisher/editor.
The author's past work and new work is also being published by Dalkey Archive Press, which was acquired by the university last spring.
Ducornet is the author of nine novels, three collections of short fiction, two books of essays and five books of poetry; the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. She has illustrated books by Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Coover, Forrest Gander and others.
The author lives in Port Townsend, in Washington.
She said she has enjoyed seeing some of her past works that had gone out-of-print back in publication.
"It's been an extraordinary experience," Ducornet said. "I'm really happy."
The author gave a reading to a full room Thursday afternoon.
One student asked Ducornet whether her writing came to her naturally or if there were moments of struggle and frustration before putting ink on the page.
"Sometimes all the films, thoughts, ideas that I've come across in life percolate in a way into a voice," Ducornet said. "Some days I'll go back-and-forth with a paragraph all day and other days I'll write 10 pages."
The creative process can be difficult, and it's important to avoid guilt and panic, the author said.
"I like to take a walk or bake bread," Ducornet said.
Her focus in "Brightfellow," which follows her own biography closer than anything she has written before, is on the betrayal of childhood.
"Our species' great tragedy is the way we have chosen to treat children," Ducornet said. "It's such a failure of human destiny ... why do we abuse those we love?"