When I simply consumed books with no aspiration to write one, every novel was a plus. It existed only to give me joy and if it failed there were plenty others.
Each time I return to Middlemarch l find it has changed; on first reading it was the story of Dorothea, nowadays she has to share my interest with less glamorous characters.
Perhaps you will become a successful lace-seller, or a designer, or work in fashion, which might well be preferable to being a writer? But you're not listening, are you? Okay, well don't despair.
Editing one’s own work can be a painful process, argues Nick Holdstock. Most writers are reluctant to ‘kill their darlings’, in Faulkner’s famous phrase. But if one can overcome this feeling, it can only make for a better work. At least that’s what he tells himself.
Like many young writers, Lizzie Nunnery resisted the idea that literary inspiration needed to be subjected to editing and revision. But then she came to see these as an organic, and essential, part of the writing process.
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.
‘Having a message’ or ‘wanting to say something’ is seen as preachy, cheesy, old-fashioned and generally a detriment to the development of great art. Not so, says Zoë Marriott, we all have a message to express.
Chris Arthur speaks with Cherise Saywell about the essay as a multifaceted and ‘heretical’ form, the notion of a ‘dangerously failed’ piece of work, and the encouraging fact that ‘If you can find the objects that speak to you, essays will follow’.