‘All writing gives you away. You are always consciously giving things away that the reader doesn’t recognize , and all the things he does recognize are things in which you may be unconsciously giving yourself away. Your writings are very personal to you, but how they are related to your actual person is not visible, or clear. . . .
One of the things that writing, or everything that claims to be art, wants to deal with, is what is mysterious, what is not capable of being answered yet, or known, the inexpressible. What hasn’t been expressed, and what maybe can’t be expressed, is precisely what tempts you each time. . . . I like books that retain an essential mystery, because that is what seems to be lifelike about them. That is what life is like.’
David Malouf Conversations: Interviews with Australian writers ed Paul Kavanagh Pete Kuch
What provokes you into attempting to write a poem, or a story or a novel, is something you see back there which is engaging, but in a puzzling way. You want to know what is to be made of it – not just to understand, and discover what it was all about, but to finally give it shape. You may go back there and the thing that engages you may not be what you thought it was at all. It may lead you to a quite different question. It is finding out where that leads, to which questions and how they can then be given some kind of form, how they can be allowed to find their form .. …There is conscious control at the level of the actual writing, because every sentence is controlled and made. But there is also a way of working so that you let the unconscious, if that is what it is, keep putting things up to you to be considered, to be incorporated or thrown off . David Malouf