Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Joys of...

..writing! O, but spring has sprung here, even if it is cold and I am enjoying my return to college: full as this year's semester is going to be.

On Wednesdays, I attend a class on Life Writing, facilitated by the bould Ian Sansom. I have come across his writing in The Dublin Review (great round-up of the great and good in Irish (and beyond) writing) and The Yellow Nib (journal of the Queen's Seamus Heaney Centre). I believe he also writes for the Guardian (of a Saturday) and he organised a poetry appreciation class last semester, which alas I was unable to attend. You might get a flavour for his writing here, on his well-organised, informative and amusing website.

Yes, I'm gushing, aren't I? It's hard not to gush when you've attended one of Ian's classes: the sheer energy of his delivery; his enthusiasm for books and book recommendations; the simplicity with which he sets sparks blazing in you and the good sound advice he gives on the subject of writing alone, have been worth the fees for the MA alone (not to mention Sinead Morrissey, Medbh McGuckian, Daragh Carville - but enough name-dropping already!).

So, the subject is Life Writing, and the various forms thereof: biographical; essays - whatever you want to explore - it's all there. And the reading list alone is throwing up some wonderful books that I'd never come across: Jack Barzun's Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers is a lucid example. This book will serve either the beginner writer, or the writer who's ready for a brush-up. It's full of great examples of how not to write and contains exercises for helping you re-appraise how you use your words.

Last week's opening salvo was a twenty point 'Things Writers ought to Know:' otherwise billed as an undergraduate's course in Creative Writing Techniques. Now, I know that some might say that that is terribly reductive - but there is a sense in having it all there; simple and direct, I guess. That's just fifteen minutes from the class!

Anyway. I must go and do my homework while I still have some finger-stumps left to work with: An Essay of 1000 words on a subject from a list I made earlier of 'Things That I Would Like to Write About Before I Die.' When you look at it like that you really don't want to mess about in what's left of your writing career, do you?

8 comments:

Frances said...

I find that's the trouble with reading too. I start a book - then worry about the ten million left yet to be read. So I start another one, then worry, etc. etc. At the moment I have about twenty books started...

Jon M said...

Oooh book flitting, one of my worst habits!

I think I write to get away from real life! hmmmm.

belle said...

got two awards for you over at mine :o)

chiefbiscuit said...

Medbh !!! She's a fav. fav of mine! Enjoy what sounds like a fantastic opportunity to dance with the stars!

apprentice said...

Yes it sounds like a wonderful course, and your enthusiasm is springing off the page, so that essay will be a cake walk!

I usually devour a book if I love it and toss it if I don't -life's to short and it feels like I'm ridding myself of all those old parental warnings about clearing my plate etc.........

Cailleach said...

Thanks guys - yes a full on energetic approach can't be helped when you're in such good company.

As for books, if it hasn't grabbed me by page 100... yes, life is too short!

Shameless said...

Sounds like you are having a ball! How you raise six children at the same time is absolutely beyond me! :-) You are a star!

Cailleach said...

I think it's exactly because I have that many that I am so driven sometimes.