If you want an insight into the nuts and bolts of a writer’s life, this book is for you. On Writing by AL Kennedy is a compilation of her blog posts written for The Guardian Online and essays on specific aspects of the fiction writing process. When you finish it, you will no longer believe that a writer’s life is full of glamour and applause.
Kennedy’s life is hectic, mind-spinning in its variety, and inspiring. Join her on a journey as she writes one book, promotes another, teaches creative writing, gives talks and performs her ‘one woman’ show. Sympathise with her through her various debilitating illnesses – name a writer who hasn’t suffered with a bad back, as she does – and cringe as she travels on delayed trains, stays in poky B&Bs, and flies, terrified, to book signings across the world. Some of her stories made me laugh out loud. I loved the fact that she travels with a survival kit to enable her to survive unedifying overnight accommodation, including teabags and longlife food. She has learnt the hard way how to survive.
Kennedy has written six novels, five story collections and two books of non-fiction, and she won the Costa Book of the Year in 2007 for Day. So she is eminently qualified to write about the process of writing. She doesn’t mince her words.
This is a clever book which, while making you smile, delivers some of the uncomfortable truths about successful writing. It is a hard road unsuited to those not obsessed with writing. There is no room for fear, she says, as fear chases away creativity. Trust yourself, and trust your reader. On the latter point she adds, “Let me in, as a reader, and I will add to the person you made, care for them, love them, I will take them far, far away from you and enjoy them as if you had never existed. If you do your job well, you will be invisible – which is the opposite of exposed.” This last point seems so obvious but easy for a writer to forget. Just think of the best-loved fictional characters who were set loose on the page by authors who wanted the readers to love them too… Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, Jack Reacher, Adam Dalgliesh, Katniss Everdeen.
BUY THE BOOK
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#Bookreview ON WRITING by @Writerer #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Os via @SandraDanby