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Solutions come in dreams

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The pleasure of finding things out
Doris Lessing Writer
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Finding out, and I've got a note here which I could talk about for years, I think, but it's what you find out when you write a book, because this is what, I think, most writers would agree: you start on a book and it's what you find out while you're writing it which is the most rewarding thing that happens, and you don't know what you're going to find out. If you... I'm not just talking about a book... a novel, but anything, a piece of work, research, anything at all. Tea-planters in Ceylon.  From the moment that you have this... theme, from all sources will come information about tea-planters in Ceylon. You'll find it in the library, in newspapers, people will start talking about it, and it's as if you've plugged into a wavelength: tea-planters in Ceylon. And you find out the most astonishing things. And this is what I... certainly I... like about writing a novel. I just love what I find out, about not only the theme of the book, but associated themes, too. Now, this is a very strange subject actually, which I'm rather tossing away. Why does it happen? What is this wavelength that you plug into – because there's no doubt you do. You can try it... just try it for... for fun. Get interested in something and in no time at all people are going to start talking about it. You'll be enormously, enormously informed about tea-planters in Ceylon. But what is it?

British writer Doris Lessing (1919-2017) was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her novels include 'The Grass is Singing', 'The Golden Notebook', and five novels collectively known as 'Canopus in Argos'. She was described by the Swedish Academy as 'that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny'. Lessing was the 11th woman and the oldest ever person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Ceylon

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2007

Date story went live: 21 October 2011