Monday, 12 April 2010

Writing about writing...plus Niamh's trip (part 2)



Articles about writing and interviews with writers can be very dull (on blogs as much as anywhere, I'd have to say). I particularly hate it when they get into that whole 'where do you write?' (lying on a chaise longe with a poodle at my feet), 'what do you write with?' (only a quill pen that's been in our family for generations...) business and I think that's because I'm really not keen on the fetishising of writers and writing – it's just an occupation at the end of the clich├ęd day. One of the reasons everyone in the world wants to be writer just now (or is that just how it seems?) is connected with this madness, I think. It's like 'write a book and you can be god/worshipped/adored/important'. No, no, no! Just write a good book.

But on the other hand it's not all doom and gloom and I do sometimes read quite interesting articles about writers and writing. Here, for example, are a few links worth clicking on:


Try this interview with writer Mark 'Curious Incident' Haddon. He's just written a play and in the piece he says:

"Increasingly I've found theatre really interesting to watch. It took me a long time to come out as someone who doesn't like film. It's a bit like when people say they don't like books: you get that sharp intake of breath."

(And on a related point on facebook recently someone posted this bit of TED video about theatre and actors. It has some luvviness within but some good points to make too. If my memory is working right it was English poet Tony Walsh who posted this clip on FB.)


This interview with young poet Kate Tempest is worth a look too (she's supporting the fantastic Scroobius Pip on tour no less – remember I mentioned him back here). Like a lot of the poets involved with what gets called the performance side of poetry Tempest throws all her words out way too fast for me but she's young yet (23) and maybe it just doesn't feel fast to her. Tempest (great name) got her start via the rap scene (all cringe at use of the word 'scene'...and indeed the word 'rap'... from an older person please...) and so she had to fight hard to get accepted and noticed. In the interview there's a hilarious quote from her along the lines of “I don't like the idea of rapping at 40 – there's no grace in it.” Wait till you're 40, love, I say, and you'll care a whole lot less about grace. Anyway, I looked at her youtube clips and this was the one that did most for this more senior small-time player.


This is a good article by writer Joe Penhall about working on the screenplay for the blockbuster 'The Road' (and a few of his other jobs).


Float by this article by a leading ghost writer. Personally I think uncredited ghost writing should be illegal – I know it makes money for hardworking writers behind the scenes but from a reader's point of view I think it's a total con. I hate the idea that scores of little girls, for example, think Katie 'Jordan' Price can really write books (as well as whatever else it is she does...). It's a lie to have her name on the front of a book and I don't see what else it can be called but that. And if that's the case then I don't think that lie teaches our children anything other than 'lying is fine and especially if you've got the money to pay for it.' It's just wrong.


And finally, in this list, here's an interview with Dick Bruna the man behind Miffy (as it were). I'm not a particular fan of Miffy (the translations at fault perhaps...sometimes reading them to our girl I found the rhymes a bit crap) but heck, he's 82 and still hard at work. Go on, my son, keep working that paintbrush!


And now, after all those links, here's my part 2 poem for Niamh's Poetry Bus (part one in the last post). Someone else in my address book made me end up writing this poem and I'm really not sure about it. See what you think:



Maybe bold

Some whinge their way through every tale
The book's too long, it's not convincing
They want another part

Others show pluck neat page by page
They've got get-up-and-go and they use it too
All they can do is do

They live on boats, take continents
Fill worlds, and more, with their direction
So much movement

The rest meanwhile just itch and whine
They loathe and fester, lie and groan
It isn't fair, you know, it just isn't fair



RF 2010


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22 comments:

sunnydunny said...

Interesting comment by Mark Haddon there. Me too, and I thought I was the only one. Film mostly feels like being led by the nose down a path that gets narrower the further you go, while theatre is more like being let loose in a field, to carry the metaphor along.

Rachel Fox said...

I was just wondering elsewhere whether movies have anything new left to offer or whether it's a medium that's well and truly had its peak. Saying that our Girl just adores films and the cinema...though she likes theatre too. Maybe I've just seen too many films and should take a few years off.

Certainly these days I see better drama in TV series than in movies (see 'Sopranos'). There's something about that approx 90mins movie format...everything has to be squeezed into it (and often in sadly predictable ways). Or the film goes for avant-garde/experimental...and is there anything left that hasn't been done...so it ends up being apres-garde.

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Totalfeckineejit said...

I'd like to be in the go-getting half of your poem but I guess I'm closer to the (fecking) feckless whinge! Doh!

Although I would like to live part of the year on a canal boat!?

Rachel Fox said...

I know, I know...but it's never so simple is it? I'm sure some people think I'm in the first part but I often feel like I'm in the second! Shades of grey and all that.

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Niamh B said...

Wow Rachel - there's a pile of stuff in this - am going to have to bookmark this one... Thanks!
And a great second poem - think I preferred your first though if I was comparing... JOKE!!! (yknow - cos you seperated em and everything - sounded funnier in my head than it looks in the comment box)
Yes I think I fear being in the get upper section too, though it's a happier place, people can kind of think you're a pain if you're too far over the line on either side...
Thanks again...

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, the pile of articles has been building up beside my computer so I wanted to do something with them!

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Titus said...

Link City! Have to come back for them, as all look interesting - except perhaps Miffy, who drives me a bit bonkers!

As to the poem - oh, how that last line is resonating tonight. And I thought I was filling worlds...

Saw "The Departed" the other night, and was mighty impressed. Some films still really do it for me. I was feeling righteous anger as a result of the film for hours afterwards.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, as I say I'm not a huge Miffy fan. It's quite an interesting article about painting and illustrating and a life at work though.

We enjoyed the Departed too. Scorsese is a champ - I'm a huge Goodfellas fan and I really rated Gangs of New York too. Oh and King of Comedy - what a movie!

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Titus said...

Saw Gangs of New York at just over 8 months pregnant, and it is seared into me for some reason. Perhaps because I was wedged into the seats. Loved it. I suspect I must be having a Leonardo phase, as got Shutter Island coming up soon. Yes, Scorsese rules!

Karen said...

I'm afraid I'm not very discriminating when it comes to film - heck, I call them movies! See? The truth is, if I'm entertained, if I escape my bounds for an hour or two, I like the movie. That's what I'm looking for in a film. Having said that, I will qualify that I won't watch certain types of movies.

Now, as for books and poetry, I'm more discriminating, and I won't waste my time! I really like this one, but I missed Part I, so I have to go back for that.

Eryl Shields said...

Now I've read all the comments I can't remember what I was going to say. I'll come back tomorrow with fresh eyes.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Karen, a really entertaining film is worth its weight in...something (celluloid?). One of my favourite films of the past few years is a kids one - 'Enchanted' - I just love it! Proper enjoyable, very funny, total feelgood movie. Although not to be watched during a Scorsese marathon.

See you next time, Eryl...it's the poem a day business. It's weakening your mind...

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Peter Goulding said...

Ah, there's a lot to be said for loathing and festering, both most underrated occupations. Wondering from a technical point of view if stanzas 1 and 4 should be together?

Rachel Fox said...

Sometimes it feels like I've spent a large part of my life festering!

I know what you mean about the order, Peter, but I think (as comments above prove) most of us are bits of both (movers and loathers) and hence mixing up the stanzas (rather than keeping them separated) feels right to me.

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Pure Fiction said...

Another really interesting post - thanks for the info.
As for the poem, it's great. Angry and clever and nicely put together.

Sorlil said...

I'm afraid I love reading about writer's habits, workplaces etc. I'm always interested in the people behind the work. Plus it's partly to do with validating my own method of writing - reading how other poets mix and match words from newspapers to leaflets through the door was a big revelation to me. Until then I thought everyone sat down with a big narritive in their head ready to spill out into a poem.

Rachel Fox said...

PF - angry? Angry! Who you calling angry!

Sorlil - I don't mind hearing about writing prompts/ideas but it's more the 'what kind of tea do you drink before you sit down to write?' fluff that drives me to distraction. I seem to remember Mslexia were particularly good at that (I was a subscriber for the first few years of that mag - there was plenty of good in it too).

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Eryl Shields said...

Now I'm awake and have had my tea I can say I like the poem, a lot. It seems to describe both the variety of characters one finds in books and films and the variety of those who watch and read. I think I could be a bit of all of them at odd times. Though I have learnt not to whine and whinge I may be festering. I'd love to live on a canal boat too.

I really like interviews with writers, or anyone else, especially the bits where they are asked what kind of shoes they wear to make supper! But I save these details and use them in fiction writing.

I also love films, especially films like The Straight Story, The Station Agent, and The Godfather, they are three of my favourites and I use them a bit like comfort blankets.

Now I will investigate some of those links.

Rachel Fox said...

At last the birthday sleepover is... over and things are back to... non-birthday sleepover. But what shoes did I wear throughout..? You'll never know...
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Eryl Shields said...

Was it your dad's old slippers?

Rachel Fox said...

He died 17 years ago so I do hope not! They'd be very old.
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Rachel Fox said...

Too tired for maths....it was 37 years ago!
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