Friday, August 10, 2007

Nice to be nice

Also at the Guardian, James Kelman offers some fascinating reflections on language and the writing career. Here he describes an early "workshop" experience:
After my reading came the critique. I enjoyed hearing people discuss my stories but certain aspects began to irritate me. I appeared to be absent. "What Kelman should do is this." "No, instead he should do that . . ." "Oh but what if he . . ."

Occasionally textual suggestions were made as though they never would have occurred to me. There was a vague assumption that the stories had just come. All I did was write them down. It was weird. I sweated blood over the damn things. Seventeen years later my novel A Disaffection was shortlisted for prizes and a member of an adjudicating panel asked if I ever revised "or did it just come out?"

It jist comes oot, ah says, it's the natchril rithm o the workin klass, ah jist opens ma mooth and oot it comes. Similar to the American dancer in reply to a related question, ah jes closes ma eyes an ma feets git to movin.

Some of what I encountered in those early days prepared me for later struggles. But the blatant elitism encountered by so-called working-class writers still surprises me. I can never predict it. I assumed that anybody who thought about art and writing would know that my finished work was hard won.
Some interesting reflections there on the first-person voice, also...

No comments:

Post a Comment