Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Why it's pointless telling anyone that writing isn't worth it
In the first post of a new blog series, the novelist explains why no amount of bad food and discomfort will put people off an author's life
AL Kennedy WRITING IN THE, Tuesday 24 February 2009

This is the life ... the Philadelphia Hobo Conference, 1923. Photograph: © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

On the road again ...
Somebody once described me as The Littlest Hobo Of Literature. Although I save far fewer orphans (in fact, none) and lack the buoyant charm of the raggle-eared original, I can see what they meant. I do have a home, of course. I know that it contains furniture, tinned foodstuffs and items of clothing (probably black) that I may never have worn. I also know I don't really live there. So – less time worrying about the neighbours and more time worrying about why so many B&B's are run by former law-enforcement personnel.

On the one hand, their emergency-related skills are probably cracking and on the other, they clearly harbour a pressing need to lock people up overnight in tiny rooms with inadequate plumbing and facilities. When I started writing no one told me it would come to this.

But I do try to tell other people what it will come to – hence my occasional visits to Warwick University and its creative writing students. They want to write, they have application and vigour, they've all come on since I read them last and yet ... it would be unfair not to remind them of how horrible their futures may become. If they're unsuccessful, they'll be clattering through a global Depression with a skill no one requires, a writing demon gnawing at their spine to be expressed and a delicately-nurtured sensitivity that will only make their predicaments seem worse – and yet somehow of no interest to anyone else.
If they're successful, they still may not make a living, will travel more than a drug mule, may be so emotionally preoccupied that they fail to notice entire relationships, will have to deal with media demands no sane person would want to understand and may well wear far too much black. (Yes, it is slimming, but unisex Richard III isn't always what the occasion demands. Trust me: experience is a painful teacher.)

Read Kennedy's full piece here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Forget her blog - go and grab a copy of 'Original Bliss' and 'Indelible Acts' she is a terrific short story writer. Well, perhaps you could also follow her fortnightly blog too.