Thursday, October 12, 2006
How I Write
Films show how writers write in a formulaic way - witness "Sylvia" with draft after draft of poems thrown over the poor girl's head, most missing the waste paper bucket. I kind of think a writers' writing methods are a little like a confessional, between him/her and their maker. Yet if God had not wanted writers to talk about their methods, he wouldn't have invented literary festivals. The Cheltenham Festival is celebrated in todays Times, with the secrets of the writing room. What a wonderfully weird bunch they are! Mainly, I confess, because they use pens, in Helen Simpson's case, an £8 a bottle-of-ink, Mont Blanc, THAT explains why she's never written a novel, too darn expensive. There are quite a few long suffering spouses (and, one presumes, employees) hidden a little off stage, from Marina Lewycka's "lovely husband" bringing porridge, to "that wonderful woman" who types up John Mortimer's incomprehensible scrawl. And they use a strange array of paper as well. Say what you want about Microsoft Word, but its a great democratiser. At least William Boyd is honest enough to say he's too old a dog to be taught new (word processing) tricks, though I'm pretty sure that before I wrote direct to screen, I'd sometimes write direct to typewriter. Simon Armitage is only a little bit older than me, so I was a bit surprised that he's "awestruck" by his computer, and has real problems when it doesn't. But then, even I write (most of) my poetry on paper. You kind of still need to see the crossings out, I think that's what it is.
Posted by Adrian Slatcher at 10:44 AM