Thursday, 14 August 2014

Alistair MacLean and writing courses:

Alistair MacLean and writing courses: 

I found this interesting little article in the back of a collection of short stories by Alistair MacLean - 'The Lonely Sea,' published 1985.  (He died a couple of years later.) I assume we all know just how successful Alistair MacLean was. I know that I was one who always immediately bought any new book by Alistair MacLean, one of my very favourite authors.

MacLean as shown
 on the back of one of his books.
Some comments he made that I found especially interesting -
'I did write a couple of books which I thought might be judged meaningful or significant but from reader's reactions I was left in no doubt that the only person who shared this opinion was myself. .... 'I have, since then, concentrated on what I regarded as pure entertainment.'

MacLean says he feels no responsibility towards book critics. And note this quote:
'I'm afraid that I class book critics along with the pundits who run what it pleases them to term 'writing schools.' One must admire their courage in feeling free to advise, lecture, preach, and criticise something which they themselves are quite incapable of doing.'

Oh, how I agree with this!  Being in a community of writers, and would-be writers, I hear so much nonsense about the 'rules' of writing - never use 'that,'  never use 'had', never use adverbs -  all sorts of nonsense. For me, I use whatever word I need in order to best communicate the meaning. For advice on writing, I'd go with what Anne Rice said on her web-page once - You want to learn to write?  Just write.

 Alistair MacLean again: 'My greatest responsibility and debt are to those who buy my books, making it possible for me to lead the life I do. Moreover, while deriving a prefectly justifiable satisfaction in pointing out my frequent errors of fact, they never tell me how to write. I am grateful.'

He is one of many authors who have given me a great deal of enjoyment. What would life be without the privilege of living lives that are not your own?  Lives that are more exciting, more exotic, more dangerous?  (Except that the reader suffers no hurt, of course.)  What would life be without books?

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