14 September 2013

Reading & Writing - The Ignorant Snob.

Day 3: Write about whatever tickles your fancy

Well, I started writing about food, but listing my favourite puddings seemed a little boring and probably of no interest to anyone but me, so I stopped that. Writing in general is pretty much the most self-indulgent thing I have ever done, and such a difficult obstacle to tackle, but I still do it. I have yet to figure out why.

I’m having to rush this and I wish I wasn’t leaving it so late, but I feel like I’ve failed this creative writing challenge already, and I bet you’re all thinking as if she got a first in her degree.

Writing streams of consciousness remind me of Engleby, a book by Sebastian Faulks that everyone should read at some point in their life if they haven’t already. It took me too long to read that book. I should be a fast reader. Unfortunately I get distracted. I can’t concentrate. I worry I should be doing something else, something more important.

I’m currently reading a book I found in a charity shop. For 75p I couldn’t pass up Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. Since I read The Time Traveler’s Wife I am both happy and disappointed that my eye for good writing has become a lot sharper (although, annoyingly, for my own, it isn’t that great). Happy because it makes me feel more intelligent and disappointed because I find myself criticizing an acclaimed author such as Niffenegger whose writing I once mindlessly enjoyed.

The story is entertaining, but the writing is guilty of being more than a little bit self-indulgent. It’s all quite pleasant and I find myself looking forward to reading it every morning and night, despite the dominant themes of death and estrangement among family members. It doesn’t seem to have much depth, but perhaps that is what some books aim to do - just entertain. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

It’s not good to be a snob about anything, but when it comes to books I refuse to read anything written by Dan Brown, whomever it was who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, and the Twilight saga. Namely because it was drummed into me throughout my time at uni that these ‘novels’ were full of utter tripe, regurgitating stock phrases and adverb filled jargon about absolutely nothing. And when studying excerpts from such books (I say excerpts, but they were more like single sentences because that was enough), I felt smug that I knew more intelligent writers – ones who were teaching me and writing with me – than these successful authors. Still, I’ve never written a novel, let alone have one published and sell multi-million copies. But that is just one type of writerly success. The question to ask is, what is your goal as a writer?

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