I wanted to write many years before I became good at it. I practiced writing in the same way that a pianist practices scales or a tennis player practices serves. I worked on sentences, then paragraphs, then scenes, over and over, until I got them right. If you want to become a writer, you may find the same is true for you. There is a long apprenticeship before you can write a full-length novel—and ages before you can write a good one. However, you can develop traits in yourself that will make it more likely you will succeed.
I am not saying you can’t be an excellent writer without developing these characteristics—authors’ personalities are replete with bizarre idiosyncrasies, social deviance, not to mention serious drug and alcohol abuse that sometimes obscure the work, itself. Admittedly success for any writer is rare, but here are a few ideas that might those of you who are writing.
Sardinas fritas con pipirrana
(Pan-fried sardines with pipirrana)
Pipirrana is a refreshing combination of tomatoes, onions, peppers and hard-boiled eggs which balances out the stronger flavour of the pan-fried sardines very well.
It must seem like one of the odder ideas for a book – page after page of old postcards, with just a sentence or two below each image as a caption. But I can explain.
About a year ago, on a quiet day at the office, I started posting postcards on Twitter. Not for their collectable beauty or even for their historic interest, but simply because I had one or two knocking about the house and the messages intrigued me. But as soon as I saw them pop up on my phone, I was hooked. I could see that, presented this way, the messages on the most ordinary old postcards were loaded with a humour and poignancy that, despite their age, is startlingly fresh. Something like gold glitters behind the faded ink and smudged postmarks.
RE4DINGS looks to introduce viewers to the enthralling personalities behind the books we publish, and this edition is no different. Stevan’s rendition of the opening section of his novel captures perfectly the mix of nostalgia and stark, gruesome violence that permeates his writing. And he delivers it all with that unique voice: a Yorkshire lilt, as refreshing as a can of Corona cream soda. Read more…
Name: Scott Blackwood
Occupation: Blackwood teaches fiction writing in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University
Book: See How Small
What’s it about: One late autumn evening in a Texas town, two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop, and disappear. ‘See How Small’ tells the stories of the survivors – family, witnesses, and suspects – who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous.
To celebrate the publication of Mainlander, 4th Estate were lucky enough to sit down with its author Will Smith (screenwriter of the Thick of It, VEEP and more). We spoke about The Thick of It, VEEP, the politics of the UK versus the US, working directly under the Messiah of satire Armando Iannucci, and the novel writing process. Listen to and download what we thought might be a fairly typical author interview, but very quickly descended into a laugh-a-minute chat about creativity, the anomaly that is Jersey, and accidentally writing feminist characters. Read more…
Occupation: English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing
Book: A Reunion of Ghosts
What’s it about: Meet the Alter sisters: Lady, Vee and Delph. These three mordantly witty, complex women share their family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They love each other fiercely, but being an Alter isn’t easy. Bad luck is in their genes, passed down through the generations. Yet no matter what life throws at these siblings, they always have a wisecrack – and each other. Read more…