Date Archives August 2010

Monday morning inspiration

“Writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.” —Red Smith (On reflection, not sure if this is inspirational or scary. But I like the quote.)

PLR petition

As a follow-up to my recent post about the threatened cuts to the Public Lending Right, I was happy to get an email this afternoon from the Society of Authors telling me about a petition they’ve organised with other groups to defend PLR from cuts. I’ve signed the petition and would urge other writers, or any other people who think writers should get a small amount of money when their books are borrowed from the library, to sign it as well.

Monday morning inspiration

“I write a little every day, without hope and without despair.” —Isak Dinesen (For this quote, and a few others I’ve used recently, thanks to Crazyhorse Journal)

“On Writing” by Stephen King

This is a book of two halves: part memoir, part writing advice. When I first read it, about ten years ago, I think I was so desperate for someone to tell me how to be a writer that I skipped all the memoir stuff and just went straight for the advice. The only part that I remembered was the advice to “write with the door shut”, i.e. not to show the work to anyone or even talk much about it while you’re working on the first draft. Later on, other… Read More

“Allah’s Garden” by Thomas Hollowell

This is an interesting book about a conflict that has been going for decades and yet rarely grabs the headlines. When Western Sahara won its independence from Spain in 1975, Morocco laid claim to the land and sent thousands of settlers. Since then, an organisation called the Polisario has been fighting against Moroccan occupation. This book tells the story of Azeddine, a young doctor who, during a brief stint of compulsory military service, is captured by the Polisario and kept in a POW camp in the desert for more than… Read More

Monday morning inspiration

“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.” —Flannery O’Connor

“Last Orders” by Graham Swift

In a way, the plot of Last Orders is very simple: a group of friends drive to the coast to scatter the ashes of their friend Jack. Yes, that’s it. Along the way they have arguments and fights and endless pints of beer, but none of that is really the point. The real action of this book takes place in the past, appropriately enough for a novel about scattering ashes. These are old men remembering not only Jack but also their own former selves. There are lots of lies and… Read More

“The Porcupine” by Julian Barnes

What I liked about this book was the complexity of its characters. It tells the story of a former Communist dictator being put on trial by the new democratic government. In another author’s hands, it could have been unbearable. The Cold War is often viewed in simplistic terms: we won, they lost, democracy=good, communism=evil. It would have been easy to make the characters into cardboard cutouts, the dictator into some kind of James Bond villain. The reality, of course, is that nobody thinks of himself as evil. We might think… Read More

Monday morning inspiration

“I only write when I feel the inspiration. Fortunately, inspiration strikes at 10:00 o’clock every day.” —William Faulkner