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“And per se and”

The editorial team at Hardie Grant Egmont’s ‘Ampersand’ project have started compiling some handy links and resources concerning ye olde craft of storytellinge. As you will no doubt discover, they take this sort of thing seriously (and would probably never use a phrase like ‘ye olde craft of storytelling’).

“One of the reasons I always liked the idea of being a writer was that it meant I would never have reason to speak in public”

Further to the link I posted last week about the psychic division between the writer as author and the writer as human being, here’s author Chris Womersley writing for the Untitled Books website about the delicate splitting of the self that comes with producing a work of fiction:

The fellow who does the dishes, forgets people’s names, ferociously bites his nails and eats porridge for breakfast — the everyday me, in other words — and the one who performs the slightly dreamy act of writing are, subtly, different. The everyday me doesn’t actually narrate my works of fiction. Instead it is the writerly version of myself — the one with access to the (hopefully) best possible word, who can spend months revisiting sentences to ensure they are just right, who can see the structure of the story being told, who understands his characters; the one who rearranges.

“You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment”

Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles. The problem is structural; it is insoluble; it is why no one can ever write this book.

From a galvanising 1989 piece by Annie Dillard for the New York Times. A vivid, powerful expression of the art of writing if ever I’ve read one.

The original article is behind the NYT paywall, but Google has a cached version.

(Thanks to T.B. McKenzie for the link.)

Martin wants, Douglas wants, Carolyn wants, Arthur wants, Nancy wants

A new series of the BBC Radio 4 sitcom Cabin Pressure began earlier this month, and in his blog post introducing the first episode, writer John Finnemore shares a page from his notebook, offering a fascinating glimpse into the process of constructing a half-hour comedy. I especially like the emphasis on what each of the main characters wants, the ‘value at stake’ and the ‘question’ of the episode.

Incidentally, John Finnemore was a guest last year on an episode of the Rum Doings podcast, which features an agreeably geeky and rambling discussion between Finnemore and hosts John Walker and Nick Mailer on the subject (mainly) of British sitcoms.

Chris Abouzeid on dialect and accent in fiction

Chris Abouzeid at Beyond The Margins looks at Mark Twain’s ‘near photographic detail’ use of phonetic dialogue in Huckleberry Finn and considers some other ways of using diction, idiom and syntax to convey dialect and accent.

A paragraph per page makes Don a focused writer

Kevin Rabelais uncovers an interesting feature of novelist Don DeLillo’s writing process in a recent interview for The Australian. A decade into his career, DeLillo began the practice, when he came to write a new paragraph, of loading a fresh page into his typewriter.

“It helped me see more clearly what was on the page … Instead of being confronted with a page of 350 words, it might have 50 words, or 100, and I could focus more clearly on words and sentences.”

Apparently DeLillo continues to use the technique. Entire forests tremble with fear every time he begins a new book. (Luckily the new one is a novella.)

Christopher Green’s recollections of Clarion South

Australian speculative fiction writer Christopher Green looks back on some notes taken during the Clarion South workshop.

Rewriting as animated GIF

Elizabeth Bear captures the pain and insanity of writing with an animated GIF showing her edits, rewrites and total redrafts of a single paragraph over an hour. Made me feel both elated and depressed; the first because I could take comfort in shared pain, the second because I realised how much of my life I have expended doing just this.

Lovecraft jottings (or, jotcraft leavings)

From the man himself: "This book consists of ideas, images, & quotations hastily jotted down for possible future use in weird fiction…" (H.P. Lovecraft). Frightening that any of these mind have found their source in, as he calls them, "casual incidents".

The best laid plans lead writers astray

“If novels are going to combust imaginatively, shouldn’t they be written spontaneously?” writes Hannah Davies.

How we work

The habits, rituals and small (and occasionally big) methods people use to get their work done. Includes a number of writers and artists.