Catherine O’Flynn explores the relationship between cleaning and writing. How what starts as a simple displacement activity for writers stuck at home leads to contemplation of exactly the kinds of big themes they might have hoped to escape: concealment, artifice, futility, death.
Miranda France describes the benefits of translation work for a writer: the chance to study the workings of a novel in detail, the wheels and cogs of composition, how characters drive the action, how the narrative is shaped, and then the awareness of the way different languages work
Emylia Hall recounts her diary retreats in a Cornish cottage, a Tuscan island, a wooded valley, seeking the solitude and peace from which her writing can spring.
Morgen Witzel compares history and historical fiction. Good history tells us what probably happened. Good historical fiction tells us what might have happened, and makes us believe it is real.
Chris Arthur struggles with writing his own bio blurb, and criticises the literary bragging that seems to be required, wondering whether he could be more original than the usual claims of ‘award-winning’, ‘critically acclaimed’ and 'internationally recognised.'
Tania Hershman appreciates the stimulus of unusual residencies. She began in a biochemistry lab, and then became a living writer-in-residence in Manchester's Southern cemetery, the second largest in Europe.
After many years of scriptwriting, Kevin Clarke gave it up for history studies. The Tudor and Stuart courts, their murderous rivalries, lies, thefts and ruthless betrayals, were familiar territory to anyone who has carved a career path through the British television drama departments.
The writer gradually learns to believe that even his very dull Midlands upbringing, and the profoundly ‘meh’ life it has spawned, might just contain something worth mining.