Monday, 21 January 2008

All this debate about rules (see below), guidelines and so on seems to crystallise for this writer at least, into something approaching rigorousness. No sloppy writing. Good prose. Stuff to be proud of. Or why bother?

Still. I’d like to draw people’s attention to The Royal Society of Literature and its series of open talks and lectures. You do not have to be a member to attend, although you will be expected to contribute a fiver or so. If you are a member, you can take a friend along for nowt..


The event I mentioned in the thread below:

Friday 4 April 2008
Joint event with the Oxford Literary Festival, at Christ Church, Oxford
University: the wrong start for a writer? — Michael Holroyd, Maggie Gee
Chair: David Dabydeen

In detail: from the RSLit website:

If you want to become a writer, should you read English at university? Or can the study of literature actually prevent you from finding your own voice? Biographer Michael Holroyd, President of the Royal Society of Literature, and recently knighted for services to literature, never went to university, and claims to have received his education in Maidenhead Public Library. Maggie Gee, novelist and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature from 2004 until 2008, read English at Somerville College, Oxford, and went on to do research degrees – but came to find academic writing increasingly burdensome. They argue the case for and against university, and ask whether, with the explosion of creative writing courses in universities all over the UK, people can really be taught to write. David Dabydeen, critic, writer, novelist, poet and director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick, chairs the discussion.

(very interesting. I have met several aspiring writers with highly academic backgrounds who are stymied because they can’t shuffle off the chains of learning.)

Can people be taught to write?

Indeed. ...

And this one, which I am going to and will find fascinating:

Monday 11 February 2008
Taboo topics — George Steiner
Chair: Marina Warner

again, from their website:

In the half century since his first book, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, appeared, George Steiner’s output has been so prodigious and so wide-ranging that it is a surprise to discover that there are subjects he has found himself unable to tackle. Marking the publication of My Unwritten Books, he talks about seven taboo topics he has avoided writing about: because they brought too much pain; because they presented too great an emotional or intellectual challenge; or because the intimacies or indiscretions they involved proved too threatening. The themes range from the torment of the gifted when they live among the truly great, to the experience of sex in different languages; from a love for animals greater than for human beings, to a theology of emptiness. Underlying them all is the perception that the very best a writer can produce is the tip of the iceberg; that behind every good book lies the book which remains unwritten.

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