Tag Archives: Writing

Welsh at the Wheeler

When I first read Irvine Welsh in the nineties, he utterly electrified me.  I cleaned out my savings on his novels and short stories: there was nothing better to spend cash on.  A combination of smarts, biting prose and tar-black humour is a dangerous thing: distilled into print it’s utterly addictive.

I still haven’t entirely shaken off my Welsh habit.  And I don’t want to.

So when I heard that Irvine himself was going to be speaking at the Wheeler Centre, I was always going to be there.  With a pen, two books to get signed and a chilled bottle of gin and tonic cunningly disguised as Spring Valley Water, I made my merry way to Little Lonsdale Street and settled in for the show. Continue reading

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Self Flagellation

In the dark old days of Mao’s China, erring party disciples would, if they were exceptionally lucky, be made to write self-criticisms.  In these documents, the straying member of the flock would abase themselves, detail their crimes against the collective and swear to be a better and truer comrade in the future.  For all I know, this sort of thing still goes on.

In the short life of this blog, I find I have urinated copiously from the lofty internet heights on Robert Frost, Inga Clendinnen, Nick Hornby, Francis Collins, Emma Beare, Don DeLillo, Ron Rash, Madeleine St John, Andrew Porter, Bret Easton Ellis, Margaret Atwood, Norman McGreevy, Michael Leunig, Colleen McCullough, J D Salinger (the day after he died), Bryce Courtenay and Tim Winton.  Well over twenty per cent of my posts, in other words, have been more or less slavering attacks.

The tables must turn, however.  In the interests of fairness, I’m going to have a go at me.  Ladies and gentlemen, the scorpion is about to sting himself.  Let the Mao-style self-criticism begin.  I direct this not to Mao, but to George Orwell, whose Politics and the English Language is and shall always be my final guide to writing.  The idea of taking up a totalitarian epistolary notion and directing it at Orwell is grievously inappropriate, but I can’t resist. Continue reading

Ten Rules For Writing A Blog

I love hearing about how writers write.  Hemingway wrote standing up – by some accounts with a carpenter’s pencil (macho: very, very macho).  Terry Jones insists that he wrote Starship Titanic in the nude.  Proust wrote in bed, in a cork-lined room.  Hunter S Thompson loaded up on anything from bourbon to Benzedrine, put a Dunhill in a cigarette holder, lit up and let rip.  Kerouac wrote on rolls of paper because he believed that individual pages imposed artificial boundaries on his prose.  Martin Amis hand-writes his fiction, but used a computer for Experience.  Clive James sometimes writes in cafes and takes a nap every afternoon.  When writing a book Stephen Fry gets up progressively earlier each day to work on it and eschews shaving.  Salman Rushdie starts writing at 10:30am and doesn’t eat lunch.

I love this kind of information because it’s essentially gossip.  The last thing I’d ever do is think that any of these snippets represented the secret to successful scribbling.  They just give my impressions about writers a local habitation and a name.

It’s puzzling, therefore, to be confronted with advice relating to writing.  And when I’m confronted with rules for becoming a writer purporting to be a signpost reading ‘Fountain of the Hippocrene: 500m’, I start to twitch a bit and bite things. Continue reading