The Birth of A Writer

Andrew Hagan reminisces:

I have to tell you it wasn't really the library that made me a writer. That dubious accolade must surely go to the film of Doctor Zhivago. My brothers and I were always hanging around our house at night looking for things to burn, but this night I found myself watching Dr Zhivago. There’s a scene in that movie when Omar Sharif comes gliding down the stairs in a flowing dressing gown, Omar Sharif, you know, following his rather impressive moustache down the stairs. Well, he arrives in this room – a giant study, you know, French windows, flowery armchairs, the lot. He sits down at this elegant ecritoir and looks out of the windows, where he sees, in quick succession, a host of daffodils, a bank of snow, a full moon and a herd of deer. (God bless Hollywood.) Anyhow, I'm watching this with wide eyes. Next thing he lifts up a feather pen and – without any ink blotches or crossings out or mistakes, and it takes him about 3.4 nanoseconds – he writes the 'Sonnet to Lara'.  After which he goes upstairs and goes to bed with Julie Christie. I remember watching that very closely and thinking, "I could do that."