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  • Re: Good writing
    by Becca at 19:54 on 19 September 2003
    I haven't read Anj's piece completely, just want to put this down now before it escapes me: good writing is the best writing a writer can do at the moment of writing, bad writing is when a writer knows they could have improved it, and didn't bother. Will that do?
  • Re: Good writing
    by Becca at 19:59 on 19 September 2003
    I have read your piece now Anj, and I'd go with you, I like what you said. Did you know that Carver tried to write some novels so he could feed his family, and they made it through the mire on the basis of his name, and they were crap because he is one of the true short story writers, and not a novelist?
  • Re: Good writing
    by Anj at 20:51 on 19 September 2003

    I like what you said there - that good writing is the best writing the writer can do at the moment of writing - the "moment" being the essence, and capturing what I think Sqwark is saying: at the moment of writing when they're really giving it everything and BEFORE s/he loses confidence in what makes their own writing special and starts writing like someone else.

    On the subject of not bothering to improve it, I read a recent Barbara Taylor Bradford recently - well, I didn't read it, I gave up after a few chapters because it was so bad. But I've just begun to read A Woman of Substance, and what a difference - you could tell she'd waited her whole life to write that novel and had built up such a head of steam and had been crafting it for years. Seems she's just going through the motions with her recent books, really lazy writing, because she knows it'll sell anyway. Which seems a huge shame - she's capable of much better (although interestingly I notice that in AWOS she does everything wrong - endless narratives, plentiful adverbs, a paragraph to tell us what each of her characters is thinking before they actually speak, rather than letting the dialogue (literally) do the talking. I notice it was published in 1979 - is that because fashions in writing have changed, or is because you can break all the rules and still produce good writing?). Her recent novel proves your point about bad writing.

    Re Raymond Carver I haven't read any of his novels, quite deliberately I think because I like his short stories so much - they were a revelation to me. I remember being completely unnerved by them at first, they just seemed to begin in the middle, and dispense with the difficult language, structure and all-round pretentiousness I'd come to associate with good literature. I remember being astonished that someone could be so moving and so enlightening with the purest of language. I'd also always been very dismissive of short stories until I read his, couldn't see the point of them, thought they were just written by people too lazy to write a proper novel. Reading him, I saw they were an art form in themselves.

    I remember reading he said he wrote short stories because he had young children and a variety of part-time jobs and could never write for more than 2 hours at a time. Perhaps that was just lucky circumstance, from what you say about his novels.

  • This 18 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  2