Posted by: stelladuffy | June 21, 2009

Jenny Diski on new writing …

great piece by Jenny Diski in The Guardian.

I particularly like her question : “How do you tell the real writers from those in search of a pot of fame and gold?”


  1. I wish Jenny Diski would start blogging again!

    As an aside, I still have moments of marvel that I can read a paper online from anywhere in the globe.

    We are of a generation that straddles the old and new. No computers at school but entering the workforce when all of a sudden we were meant to be keyboard savvy.

    All those hours spent in reference libraries, reading journals, or the joy of the (Melbourne) State library requesting books from the stacks and taking them to read under the magnificent dome. I’m glad I have both experiences. Though I doubt I could have got away reading the Guardian naked in the library🙂

  2. PS: now you are blogging have you been tempted by the meme siren?

    If you get the urge – you might find this one on “home” for refugee week interesting.


    (even better if you have the link)

  4. Gill, I read that home piece of yours and it had me so painfully nostalgic I couldn’t even comment!!
    thought I’d wait a bit and then have a go at it myself, but still haven’t managed it!
    my ‘home’ is so both London (not all of Britain) and Tokoroa (and slightly Wellington, not the whole of NZ, it’s very place-specific in the ‘missing’ and/or comfort I feel in the idea) – and I know I will never truly be able to leave one or the other, and will always yearn for either at important times. my mother spent 33 years (living and very happy) in Tokoroa and never stopped pining for the Thames, I do the same the other way round – and would pine for the Thames and the city wherever I went now.
    my garden is a wonderful place of ‘home’ though – just as I think my Londoner mother made her Tokoroa garden ‘home’ too.

    ps – what I don’t know though, is what is really meant by meme. I also admit I don’t think I fully understand what is meant by trope, but I regularly hear it bandied about at my own writing events! not only did you and I study without the aid of computers, I also studied English Lit without the ‘aid’ of literary theorists!

  5. Um, thanks I think – that post has now had one person cry and another in pain!

    I knew I was lost the week after I returned from living in London, to find myself sitting in my childhood home bawling my head off due to “homesickness”. Not London, not Wellington, not people, not place – just a feeling that somewhere else in the world I could be more “me” than the one I was in. Most confusing.

    A meme is basically a thought or concept that spreads quickly through social networking…or something like that. The idea is when you have done it you pass it on to someone else to make it their own. Kind of chain letter without the voodoo!

    Its also a really good way to waste time in the guise of a writing exercise🙂

  6. good pain, not bad pain! (and yes, ‘writing exercise’ instead of writing the project in hand – always a great way to er, not actually write the project in hand!!) x

  7. What happened to social networking that was actually about meeting people? Sorry, didn’t intend to say that, but got caught reading some of the other comments which I foolishly thought would be about the Diski piece. What I meant to say was that for me the most pertinent thing she had gto say was about rewriting – the real writing is the rewriting? Something along those lines? [Saturday’s papers already in recycling heaven and can’t check.] And isn’t she right to suggest – I think this is one of the things she was suggesting – that what the world currently – ever? – doesn’t need is umpteen more ‘trained’ writers who are being lulled/conned into thinking creative writing courses are a good route into becoming not just a published writer, but one who can earn a living at it?

  8. well, the meeting people only works if you’re both in the same country – when one person is in the UK and the other in Australia, I think blogs/facebook etc, are as good as any other place for that brief catch-up chat …

    yes, it’s def about the re-writing, for me, you, and almost every other writer I know. By which I do mean people who make it their daily work – whereas, frankly, all too often on the few occasions I teach workshops, I meet people who sincerely believe editing is merely spell check, and that the point of writing is to enjoy what flows from your pen/fingers/keyboard – NOT the re-working, re-doing, revising that constitutes what most of us actually do in order to make work we value.

    I also completely agree that there are too many courses, and no certainty over quality control – either in terms of the course tutors OR the people coming on to them (seems to to me, many places see ‘creative writing’ as a way to make money for their university or college.). Have said so, on this blog, plenty of times before now. Of course there are some good courses, but there are plenty of mediocre ones too. And I suspect mediocre might be worse than bad – harder to spot.

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