The other day I came across a Bono quote that made me stop and think. I’d been looking for material to help research my nBono on Bono quote for writersext novel, which happens to feature a politicised rock star, and I stumbled on this book – Bono on Bono – going cheap in my local Oxfam shop. Very soon I saw why.

As a book, it’s a bit of a puff piece. A series of interviews by a friend, Michka Assayas, which make the word superficial sound deep. For U2 fans only. But occasionally, more by luck than judgement perhaps, Assayas delivers a Bono quote that strikes sparks.

This is what I read. He’s talking about songwriters who are sometimes great and gifted – and sometimes not:

Bono quote: on setting fire to your imagination

How did this person… set fire to my imagination? … When people are absorbed in the culture, and they’re going out, they’re listening to music, they’re in the clubs, music is just part of their every waking moment, and as a result part of their sleeping times, in their dreams. The life is empty of other lovers.

Unless you’re in love with the music, or you stop struggling with it in your unconscious when you’re asleep, you’ve other dreams. You’re dreaming about moving houses, about whatever other ventures you’re involved in.

But that’s where you did all your great work: you did it when you were… [suspends sentence, searching for the right word]

… Missing…

Yes. Unconscious. 

What are you absorbed in today?

This is crucial. Half-hearted writers write half-hearted works. How many writers do you know who allow themselves to be “absorbed in the culture” – as in the Bono quote – going out to movies, staying in with TV or reading scripts or novels, reading becoming a part of their every waking moment?

And how many writers talk about writing, maybe even do writing, and then spend half or more of their life on other matters? I don’t mean you have to give up the day job. The day job may be essential to keep you and/or your loved ones alive.

And I know professional writers who are less absorbed by writing than those struggling with full-time jobs, forced to write in their spare time.

I mean, where is your heart? What is absorbing you?

The cheapest available high

At film school some of us used to go to a cheap flea-pit cinema in Victoria where they showed classic films, non-stop. We’d watch four movies a day and walk out in a daze – a cinema trance. It was weird. It was the cheapest available high. It was great.

Are you ready to take the plunge?