On Writing #1

A new fortnightly newsletter of writerly advice I've come across...

Dear friend

I know the creative writing tips newsletter is on break but I’m going to try a new fortnightly newsletter for you. This time I’ll be sharing some of the writing wisdom I come across from other writers.

I read a lot of writers talking about writing and I listen to a lot of podcasts about writing and I thought, why not share the love a little with these short links for you. I hope it’s of interest to you. I plan to keep this newsletter free but will be dropping in links to where you can support me and my work, if any of this resonates. Any links to buy books will be through my affiliate link at bookshop.org. Obviously buy your books wherever is easiest for you or get them from the library, but bookshop.org does give a chunk of every sale to independent bookshops and a small commission to affiliates like me.

1) George Saunders, In Writing Podcast

The writer Hattie Crissell has a great podcast on writing, craft and process where she speaks to writers about the mechanics of how they write. George Saunders is always so generous in conversations like these. He makes writing seem easy, attainable, joyful even.

Saunders talks about everything from the importance of the first draft to the science of editing to voice and making people laugh.

Listen to the full episode here

George Saunders also has a creative writing book out at the moment called ‘A Swim In A Pond In The Rain’ where he uses the short stories of four great Russian authors (Chekhov, Tolstoy, Gogol and Turgenev) to talk about the writing process. Buy the book here

One of my favourite quotes from it is: ‘A story is a linear-temporal phenomenon. It proceeds, and charms us (or doesn’t), a line at a time. We have to keep being pulled into a story in order for it to do anything for us… A story is a series of incremental pulses, each of which does something to us. Each puts us in a new place, relative to where we just were.’

2) Create Dangerously by Albert Camus

In 1957, Albert Camus delivered a lecture about how the artist has a responsibility to challenge, provoke and speak up for those who cannot in this powerful speech, accompanied here by two others.

It’s a beautiful short read, one you can pick up through the Penguin Modern series if you want to own a physical copy. (It is easily findable online as well).

Here is the physical copy

Here it is online

One of my favourite quotes from it is:

‘To create today is to create dangerously. Any publication is an act, and that act exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing. Hence the question is not to find out if this is or is not prejudicial to art. The question, for all those who cannot live without art and what it signifies, is merely to find out how, among the police forces of so many ideologies (how many churches, what solitude!), the strange liberty of creation is possible. It is not enough to say in this regard that art is threatened by the powers of the State. If that were true, the problem would be simple: the artist fights or capitulates. The problem is more complex, more serious too, as soon as it becomes apparent that the battle is waged within the artist himself. The hatred for art, of which our society provides such fine examples, is so effective today only because it is kept alive by artists themselves.’

3) Leone Ross’ Writing Tips

Leone is about to drop one of the books of the year this week (‘This One Sky Day’). She is an astonishing writing who teaches creative writing as well. Here are some writing tips from her website

Here is a link to her magical new novel, ‘This One Sky Day’

One of my favourite of her writing tips: When in doubt, tell the truth. About how you ached for a cruel man. That you feel like crying when you see fresh flowers in a park. That you think parents are over-rated. That love is dark and sometimes boring. That you believe in forever. Show your belly. Challenge your heart. Don't judge. Judge. Tell the truth.

Okay that’s enough from me. I’ll drop into your inbox in a few weeks with another one of these. If you like this newsletter, please share with your writing friends; please buy some of the books mentioned; please subscribe; please support my work, either by buying one of my books or by buying me a coffee through this nifty site

Keep going

Nikesh