Friday, February 04, 2005

In praise of amateurs

Now isn’t that serendipity? I have just finished The Full Cupboard of Life and Alexander McCall’s distinctive writer’s is voice still ringing in my ears. So this morning I see an interview with him in the paper. This is obviously meant to be, arranged by some helpful angel to speak to me. And whoa -he writes 1000 words a day plus and that is just for his serial novel 44 Scotland Street published Mon-Friday in the Scotsman. He is up at 5:30 and finished that bit of writing by 7am! Oh, Oh.

But he is encouraging too. He says “ I think it’s really important, and it’s a sad day when amateurism is pushed to the sidelines.” (Alexander plays the basoon badly so he isn’t talking about his writing.) He goes on to say “many people start off as amateurs and then discover they have a particular talent. That’s definitely the case with writing, that every writer in the very beginning is an amateur....” Now isn’t that good? That’s me I say gleefully. There is hope! Then I crash again. He says”...the idea that you can create and train a writer in my view is very suspect... you cannot put into somebody the urge to create, to write, to compose music.” Well, perhaps all is not lost. I do have an urge to write don’t I, I do have an urge to create so maybe I’m okay.

And he talks about Ian Rankin who lives just down the street ( authors row obviously). Now I am supposed to be reading Ian Rankin for my book circle and instead I was reading McCall Smith. He calls him a “proper crime novelist” whereas he says his books “are not really proper detective stories. They are really novels about character.” Now we can discuss THAT at our book club gathering. What would Ian say about that?

So thank you Alexander and have a good time ice-fishing. I am glad you don’t expect to catch anything . My husband never did and I expect as a Scot you will be able to manage the fortifying liquids which are an essential part of this “very important element in the Canadian commune with ice.” I do hope you give it more than 10 minutes, though. It would be a shame to miss out on this “cultural experience” and I’d like to see how you might work it into a book some day.


Ami said...

I recently read that J.K. Rowling also lives in that same neighbourhood and that Rankin affectionately calls the area "Writers' Block".

Dorthea Brande had some interesting things to say about who should and shouldn't keep after writing as a profession in her book, "Becoming a Writer". If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it!

I say, as long as you love it...keep writing.

By the way, thanks for stopping by Incidental Pieces, I enjoyed your comments. :-)

canary said...

Yes, I have read Dorothea. She is not out-dated and makes very good sense. Thanks for coming by.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)