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.
Writer’s block can be a dark tunnel where ideas, characters, plotlines and creative invention fade in the blackness. There are strategies to help break or lessen this curse which could be usefully applied to any form of writing.
Duncan Forbes describes the challenges and consolations of translating poetry and how it can help us to gain an insight into earlier times, distant cultures and other minds.
Charles Jennings mourns unused research from Utah: a concatenation of vice, gambling, Mormonism, hideous landscapes, a dead sea, padlocked beer — and the atomic bomb.