Are writers mad — or only very sane? Horatio Clare reflects on this conundrum, with relation to his own experience of mental illness.
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.
In the course of his writing career, Brian McCabe has discerned the influence of a number of other writers on his own work — influences which may or may not have proved enduring. Here he considers some of the more important.
Letters, photographs, newspaper cuttings… writers have always found inspiration in ephemera. Some have carried hoarding to excess, as Nicolette Jones explains.
After an accident left him with a broken arm, Roy Bainton had to learn to manage without the use of one hand, discovering how difficult ordinary tasks, such as driving – and typing – had become. His experience left him chastened, and with a new insight into the lives of other writers whose disabilities were more permanent.
Travel guidebooks burst with listings and practical advice, these days, and the armchair reader is relatively neglected. John Keay looks back to the earliest days of the format, when John Murray and Baedeker competed in the early nineteenth century, and wonders when the object of reading a guidebook for pleasure began to be forgotten.
Martina Evans kept starting novels only to find that they turned into poems and diagnosed in herself a resistance to narrative extension. She taught fiction and wrote poetry: bored with the padding of novels, she felt only poems tunnelled into the seam where memory meets the unconscious. Here she offers a passionate defence of the shorter form.