Saturday, October 28, 2006

After the question asked in the last post - not mine, by the way, but from the organisers of the conference - I've come back from a full day teaching at Sussex desperate to write. Which definitively proves that creative writing courses might be good for the tutors at least. And I'm desperate to write because of what I've read today. Reading always makes me want to write. Read, read, read, if you want to write. Apart from student gems, and we had lots of those, there was Fernando Sorrentino and his story, There's a Man in the Habit of Hitting Me on the Head with an Umbrella (not distributed amongst the students yet). And I admit I'm shallow - god, I seem to do nothing else but admit that on this blog - but the last time I mentioned Fernando Sorrentino, he emailed me saying something like 'this small elephant says thank you' and I've developed a huge crush on him since. Other stories of his are up on the wonderful East of the Web site, and while you're there, check out Hilary Jenkins. One author we did look at today was John Fowles and in particular his use of particular point of view in The Collector. I was shocked at how many students hadn't read it. Can't bear to think of the brilliant John Fowles slowly disappearing from view...

And the disadvantage of teaching today is that I got back too late to go to the Bluechrome party, but I hope my forthcoming book of short stories, Leading the Dance was celebrated in style, albeit without me. I'm not fussed at all, no not at all...

3 comments:

benita said...

I believe that creative writing courses are good for everyone who participates in them, tutors and students alike. As you say Sarah, reading stimulates writing, and that's what's at the heart of it, that need to write and write and write.

I feel that this need is something that nobody can teach or be taught, it is innate, but that writing courses fan the flames of creativity and are then very useful for learning how to smooth and shape the rough edges of what was forged in that fire. And that's a precious skill to aquire and grow. I participated in many online courses at the trAce online writing school (sadly no longer running) and thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from the creative buzz that they fostered.

I too have been puzzled and dismayed for a long time about the way that John Fowles is definitely disappearing from view. Why is this I wonder? Perhaps it is something to do with the slightly misogynistic taint in some of his work, which I notice, but can read around without it detracting from his worth for me. However, I suspect that not everyone may be willing to ignore this. Any thoughts?

Sarah said...

I think you might be right about the misogynistic element - hadn't really thought about that because I can bypass it. It was interesting seeing on Amazon though that all his books had newly designed covers, so maybe he's ready for a comeback? Interesting what you say about trAce - I used to love that site. What were the courses like?

benita said...

The trAce courses were absolutely brilliant. They provided tuition when you wanted it, with great writers and poets (I was lucky enough to study with Jane Draycott and Kate Pullinger, amongst others) at your own time and pace, contact with other aspiring writers all over the world, a classroom in your own computer 24/7. And of course a tremendous buzz of creativity. I really miss them, I did six, and I haven't been able to find anything that replaces them. They were a great idea and I think that it's a terrible shame that they are no more.

I do hope that Fowles is about to be more widely read again, it's high time he was as I feel that he was a fabulous writer and that his work is full of fascinating ideas as well as his lifelong preoccupations. The sort of writing that you enjoy while you're reading it and then many times again long after as you consider the ideas that flow from it. Time for a John Fowles appreciation society maybe..?