Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Incomplete novels and attack dolphins

I could wax lyrical about the quality of the readings at the "Work in Progress" evening, but for the sake of sanity (yours) and dignity (mine) , I won't. The idea for the event was simple: three authors - Michelene Wandor, Jonathan Taylor and Will Buckingham (the last two are DMU lecturers) - gave readings from books they are in the process of writing as well as talking about the process of coming up with ideas, shaping them, and setting them to paper.

In the midst of a sea of "How To Imagine" books that set out the rules of inspiration with firm, patronising hands, the event took a refreshingly open-minded approach. The three authors were very specific about their own methods, but made little attempt to push them on to the audience as the Only Method.

It's an approach which would rub some people the wrong way: "What's the point if they're not going to tell you how to write a novel? If I wanted to hear people talk about what they personally do, I'd go read a blog," they might say in rather nasal tones.

But they aren't the target audience: The target audience is writers, who chafe at being told how they should find inspiration. Attempts at setting down hard and fast rules for imagination result less in delighted cries of "Thank you! I wouldn't have known how to get an idea otherwise" and more in low snarls of "Release the attack dolphins."

Or perhaps that's just me. Either way, the three authors earned their applause at the end of the evening.

Phillip Dobson

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