Tales of passion

by Jamie Jauncey

On the second night of our recent Dark Angels advanced course in Spain, once they had all settled in, we decided to ask the eight students to take just a couple of minutes after dinner to say why they had come. Two hours later we were all still sitting there, candles guttering low, wine bottles empty, enthralled by what we were hearing.

Well fed and watered, people were opening up in a remarkable way. Everyone had a story to tell and in almost all cases the decision to come on the course proved merely to be the latest chapter in a chain of events that had begun years or even decades previously. Continue reading “Tales of passion”

Omission

by John Simmons

John McPhee has been writing beautifully in The New Yorker for more than 50 years. It’s an omission on my part that until my American friend Richard mentioned him yesterday I had never heard of him. Richard sent me the link below and it’s easy to become immediately beguiled by McPhee’s easy-going style. There’s an art in it. Here’s one paragraph.

“Writing is selection. Just to start a piece of writing you have to choose one word and only one from more than a million in the language. Now keep going. What is your next word? Your next sentence, paragraph, section, chapter? Your next ball of fact. You select what goes in and you decide what stays out. At base you have only one criterion: If something interests you, it goes in — if not, it stays out. That’s a crude way to assess things, but it’s all you’ve got. Forget market research. Never market-research your writing. Write on subjects in which you have enough interest on your own to see you through all the stops, starts, hesitations, and other impediments along the way.” Continue reading “Omission”