Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Hobo's Life for Writers

A.L. Kennedy issues a stark warning to wannabe writers ... and knows no-one will heed it :
... I do try to tell other people what it will come to – hence my occasional visits to Warwick University and its creative writing students. They want to write, they have application and vigour, they've all come on since I read them last and yet ... it would be unfair not to remind them of how horrible their futures may become. If they're unsuccessful, they'll be clattering through a global Depression with a skill no one requires, a writing demon gnawing at their spine to be expressed and a delicately-nurtured sensitivity that will only make their predicaments seem worse – and yet somehow of no interest to anyone else. If they're successful, they still may not make a living, will travel more than a drug mule, may be so emotionally preoccupied that they fail to notice entire relationships, will have to deal with media demands no sane person would want to understand and may well wear far too much black. (Yes, it is slimming, but unisex Richard III isn't always what the occasion demands. Trust me: experience is a painful teacher.)

Naturally, I don't believe anyone will be deterred by my mad-eyed rantings. Once somebody wants to write it's almost impossible to stop them without also killing them to some significant degree. Nothing beats that raging delight at three in the morning when sentence number 15 finally agrees to do what you want, and never has banging wiggly marks on to a computer screen seemed so heroic – even if you're simply ensuring that the orthopaedic surgeon ravishing your senior nurse in the sluice room doesn't seem implausibly limber and can meanwhile reawaken echoes of that summer afternoon with her funny uncle ... And if you think you might actually be doing some good, amusing someone other than yourself – making them less lonely, more alive, more informed – well, you're just not going to chuck that over in favour of crafting, long walks and a quiet life. Hence the number of regimes and leaders who have discovered that killing writers until they are entirely dead is a highly effective method of slowing literary output. And may angels and ministers of grace preserve the students and indeed myself from any shades of that. We may feel hard done by, but we're not doing that badly – for individuals trapped in a society intent upon eating its own tongue.

4 comments:

Yusuf Martin said...

Yep sounds about right to me!

One addition though - if you really really really want to be a writer, get as much experience of the world as you can because a lack of experience will ultimately tell in your writing.

Experience rather than M.A s in Creative Writing will make you a much better writer.

Damyanti said...

While I agree that life is the best teacher, and life-experience is important for a writer, I've seen people who have a lot of experience in life write terribly.

Sometimes, it is not only about what you have to say, but also if you know an effective way of saying it.

Anonymous said...

"if you think you might actually be doing some good, amusing someone other than yourself – making them less lonely, more alive, more informed – well, you're just not going to chuck that over in favour of crafting, long walks and a quiet life."

Well now you understand. I took a few days off to see if there was a better life, but there isn't, there really isn't. There's no money in it, but by golly, what a life. Even if someone, somewhere were to come to my house and kill me for what I wrote (and judging by the explosions, it'd be highly likely :) ) I'd still be doing it. How can you not? it's begging to be said.

bibliobibuli said...

you wrote something besides comments on this blog??? in your dreams, mate!