Writing Courses (or not)
Thanks to everyone who’s said they are coming to the launch. It will be great to see both of you. No, really. And yes, I will have that money I owe you. Yes, and the interest. But 27%? What are you? The bastard brother of Barclaycard.
In an effort to get the blog more widely read I have decided to make it funnier. Anyone know any jokes?
This week I have been invited to be part of a discussion on the subject of the usefulness (or not) of writing courses at an event being put on by Pulp.net at the Guardian newsroom on 21st May. Details here.
As I mentioned last week I am very busy. At the time the call came through I was asleep on the living room floor in front of the snooker. Hendry vs. O’Sullivan. One of the most exciting matches in Crucible history!
Seeing the unidentified 020 number on my mobile I was at first confused, thinking I had somehow become part of a new sex chat line. (I don’t get many calls). Then I realised that would probably be an 0800 number (would it?) and would they be calling me, this sex searching hoard? Probably not. Especially as I hadn’t had a shower for three days or changed my underpants. (Well it is the World Championships! Mind you, there is a certain market...)
But I am getting off the point. If I ever had one.
“I just need to check my diary,” I said to the nice young lady, in my best up-and-coming novelist voice.
I clicked open iCal on my Mac (very professional), clicked over to the correct month.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m free for the whole of May. You’re lucky.”
It was that final ‘you’re lucky’ that clinched it, I think.
Or the fact that I’ve never been on a writing course. Well, not exactly true. When I was at Sixth Form College we had some visiting writers. One of them, I remember, was an up-and-coming young poet who had had some poetry translated into Flemish and had been quite a success (sold three copies!) and for next twenty years she had been visiting minor colleges of education to spread the vibe.
Those interested had to submit their writing and then attend two workshops in place of our regular afternoon A level English classes.
“What we’ll do,” said this poet, “is read out the bits we like the best and then after, we can all discuss what we like about them. We won’t mention names.”
“Oh shit,” I thought. As each piece was read out I just wanted to leap up and admit it was me. You see, it was like one of those Agatha Christie novels where they are going to reveal the killer. I thought all eyes were on me. I had done it.
At the end of the eighth extract of teenage suicide and angst, actually angst and teenage suicide, that way around, the young poet stopped.
“What I liked about all your work,” she said, “was its deep and serious nature.”
I had submitted a piece about a man who dresses up as a woman in order to engage a private dick and ends up having an affair with him. It was a parody of a Damon Runyon story. It was supposed to be goddam funny!
After the session came to an end my English teacher came up to me. “I didn’t give them your story,” she said. “I didn’t think it was representative of what you could do.”
And true of what I feel about my writing today. Not good enough to be taken seriously. In my head it is serious, it just comes out funny.
That’s true too.
Currently reading - Pandora in the Congo, Albery Sanchez Pinol
Currently listening to - Play Moolah Rouge, I Am Kloot