‘Lost objects and unreliable memories… are everywhere in my writing,’ says James McConnachie – wondering if perhaps this preoccupation with missing and destroyed documents, contended versions of history, and rescuing facts from obscurity might have its origin in something that happened in his childhood – the loss of a beloved toy car.
Should poetry be about something — other than itself? asks John Greening, considering some famous examples of works that have defied this question, as well as others which have dared to be topical, even at the risk of becoming irrelevant over time.
Every writer knows the terror of Blank Page Syndrome, and writing poetry offers the ‘bleachiest’ pages of all, according to Kona MacPhee. However, the creative constraints of writing to commission, far from limiting the poet’s imagination, can be one way of setting it free.
‘A screenplay is a description of a film that hasn’t been made yet,’ says screenwriter Hugh Stoddart, before unravelling some of the mysteries of this often-overlooked branch of writing — including how to convey information without necessarily using dialogue, and how to structure a scene.
The connections between writing and digging – as explored in Seamus Heaney’s eponymous poem – weren’t obvious to Susan Fletcher, until she found herself working on an archeological dig in Northumberland, and discovered for herself that writing can be a kind of excavation.
Confronted with the task of writing a series of children’s picture books on themes such as Democracy and Civic Pride, Deborah Chancellor was unsure how to make these attractive to a five-year-old readership. But then a walk with the dog and a hamster named Nigel came to the rescue.
Once every newspaper’s chilliest corner, the obituaries section is now the home of some of the best story-telling in journalism. The journalist and obituarist Nick Caistor looks back at how obituaries changed during the late 1980s and 90s, in the UK, and examines why obits are still so important, and so beloved.
Can a British or Irish playwright ever escape the influence of Samuel Beckett? Brian McAvera reveals why he put Beckett on stage as a vampire and ventriloquist’s dummy, and explains how it all stems from those troubled questions of British and Irish identity – questions that Beckett, like so many writers, tried to escape by becoming a European.