It's not just a book thing!
Writing fiction is oddly lonely and strangely difficult. Lonely in that it involves long periods of quiet time spent in the company of imaginary characters. Difficult in the way that an activity that doesn’t involve danger, bravery or heavy lifting shouldn’t be. It is also tricky to discuss because each writer’s experience and way of working is different.
So, it’s sometimes good to read a published and respected author express the same doubts, fears and difficulties, especially when she does so with such eloquence and generosity, describing everything from the realities of writing:
The point is, it’s ridiculous and beautifully unwise of us to even attempt a novel, and anyone who says the process isn’t grisly, or won’t become so fairly soon, is a big fibber. (Chapter XXI)
To the quiet joy of it all coming together:
That first moment you meet what is effectively a neatly bound section of your own mind, is certainly an excuse for a short pause, maybe a cup of tea… (Chapter VI)
Comprising a series of blog posts originally published in The Guardian and a number of essays, AL Kennedy’s On Writing is writing about writing that thankfully does not tell you how you should or shouldn’t write. Instead, Kennedy’s approach is to lead by example – she writes in a style that is engaging, perceptive and apparently effortless. The result is a series of updates from the front line of literary employment, presented like short letters to good friends.
The best of the essays, ‘Does That Make Sense?’ concerns writing workshops and demonstrates ALK’s commitment to questioning practices at every turn, keen to make sure that events are being run to best benefit the attendee, rather than just in the way that is easiest, or will make the most money. Those who have signed up to attend her Litfest workshop will be keen to see how this has influenced her approach.
Whatever she delivers it is sure to be interesting, as on the evidence of this collection, AL Kennedy is a writer who thinks deeply about each step of the process.
On Saturday 19th September, AL Kennedy will run a workshop entitled ‘Beginner’s Prose’ at Les Cotils from 09:30-12:00 before reading at the Town Church at 15:45. After this, she will be allowed a rest. For further details and to book tickets for the above events, see the Guernsey Literary Festival website.