There's a very interesting interview with writer Janice Galloway in the new issue of the 'Scottish Review of Books'. We get this (quarterly?) paper delivered on subscription but I'm pretty sure you can pick it up free in libraries round here too. For those of you further away I'm afraid you can't read the article online (not that I can see) but you can buy the current issue here if you're interested.
So what's interesting about it? I've only read one of Galloway's books so far (back here I read 'The trick is to keep breathing', published 1989) but I just love her forthright comments and total lack of literary scene blah-de-blah in this piece (interview by Colin Waters). She's very good on creative writing courses for example...in fact she's so good I'm going to quote that whole paragraph:
“For my sins, and for three years, I taught on a creative writing course at Glasgow University. I find myself cringing even using the phrase 'creative writing course'. Some students came because they want 'to be a writer'. And what's in their head somewhere is The X Factor: a race with glamour at the end, learning tricks that will turn you into JK Rowling. And it's all fucking mental. They want you to let them in on the secret – how it's done. As though I would know. As though anybody does. I want to be a movie star/I want to be a genius. Ho hum. As though these things are active career choices. Now, I want to act/I want to use my mind – that's a different ball game. Now and then you'd meet one of those – someone who wants to communicate to others, not gain something for themselves. It's rare though. Like hen's teeth. Then there are the last lot – those who are keen to write as obscurely and convolutedly as possible to prove something to themselves about being 'too good' for this world. Aspiring to be a lonely and misunderstood genius is a daft aspiration. Writing's gift is to reach out.”
Now I'm not saying people shouldn't go on creative writing courses...they keep a lot of writers in work and I'm sure they suit some people really well at certain times in their lives....but I also think the whole 'go on a writing course, meet influential people, get published' route is not the only way for writers to progress (nor should it be). I've had people say to me that I should go on one of the creative writing MAs “for all the contacts, that's how you get published...”. Go on it to write and think about writing, by all means... but for the contacts? Just thinking about it nearly breaks my silly little idealistic heart. And think what Bill Hicks would say. If he was still alive. Obviously.
Anyway there's a lot of other great quotes in the interview – it's well worth a look. And Janice Galloway has a new book out – there's a review of it here.
5 hours ago