Why is there so much fuss in the media about how to write a novel – "everyone can become an author" – when the more important thing is how to read one?
A hearty number of writers, as a result of the unpaid author scenario, end up providing blogs, lists and endless tips on "how to write".
How to write fiction. Tips on getting started. Tips on writing a book in a month, tips on writing a book on your fingernail, tips on how to get laid and write a book on the back of the person in bed beside you. Or how, if you're quick enough, you can write one on the bottom of the foot of that person opposite texting furiously on the train. You can write your way out of any situation. You can write your way out of the Conservative party and up the arse of a goat. You can write away austerity. You can write with austerity. You might save the NHS if you only finish your novel-in-progress, especially if you sign up for this writing course – see the advert over there on the right-hand-side.
There are no adverts that instruct you to sit down, have a cup of tea and read. This, I suspect, is because there's no economic advertorial kickback from those acts...
There seems to have been a shift from a reading culture to a writing culture, a diminishment of critical space for the contemplation of literature. Writing needs to be discussed and interrogated through reading. If you wish to write well, you need to read well, or at least widely. You certainly need to contemplate reading a book in translation, unlikely to be widely reviewed in newspapers, many of which are too busy wasting space on "how to write" tips and asking about an author's personal fripperies. It's a great deal more fulfilling to read and think about a fine book than to attempt to write one.
- Anakana Schofield, writing in The Guardian about the perils of publishing and publicity and such. You can read the whole thing here.
And the best part? The two ads for Guardian Writing Workshops next to the article!