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Archive for July 21st, 2009

July 21st, 2009 • Posted in Wicked Quotes

George Eliot on Insects

"Of what use, however, is a general certainty that an insect will not walk with his head hindmost, when what you need to know is the play of inward stimulus that sends him hither and thither in a network of possible paths?" George Eliot

July 21st, 2009 • Posted in On Politics

Canadian Copyright Consultations Cick Off

The Government of Canada is hosting a nationwide consultation on copyright modernization Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, and  James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, are encouraging Canadians to join the discussion and express their views on copyright. Consultations – nicely buried in the lazy crazy hazy days of Summer – run until 13 September 2009. Interested parties may participate via an online discussion forum and/or a submission centre.
July 21st, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Audio Interview with Ha Jin on: The Writer as Migrant

Ha Jin was born in China in 1956. After Tiananmen Square, he emigrated to the United States. Unlike most exiled writers Ha Jin was not established in his native language; he had no audience in Chinese, and so chose to write in English.
He has published three collections of poetry, including Between Silences and Facing Shadows, and three collections of short fiction, Ocean of Words, received the PEN/Hemingway Award, and Under the Red Flag, won the Flannery O’Connor Award. His novel Waiting won the National Book Award for fiction as well as the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. In 2004, he published War Trash, which also won the PEN/Faulkner Award.  He lives in the Boston area and is a professor of English at Boston University.

We met recently in Ottawa to talk about his first book of non-fiction The Writer as Migrant (University of Chicago Press). Adapted from The Rice University Campbell Lecture he delivered in 2006, the book consists of  three interconnected essays exploring the experience of migrant,  ‘exiled’ writers in relation to their ‘home’ countries and languages.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn,  Lin Yutang, Homer, Joseph Conrad , Vladimir Nabokov and others all contribute to the conversation. Please listen here:
July 21st, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Martin Amis’s advice to Writers

Mark Medley interviews Martin Amis in the National Post. Here’s the advice:

  • Write in long-hand: when you scratch out a word, it still exists there on the page. On the computer, when you delete a word it disappears forever. This is important because usually your first instinct is the right one.
  • Minimum number of words to write every day: no “quota”: Sometimes it will be no words. Sometimes it will be 1500.
  • Use any anxiety you have about your writing — or your life — as fuel: “Ambition and anxiety: that’s the writer’s life
  • Never say ‘sci-fi.’ You’ll enrage purists. Call it SF.
  • Don’t dumb down: always write for your top five percent of readers.
  • Never pun your title,  simpler is usually better: “Lolita turns out to be a great title; couldn’t be simpler.
  • At Manchester (University, where he teaches creative writing) my rule is I don’t look at their work. We read great books, and we talk about them … We look at Conrad, Dostoyevsky.
  • When is an idea is worth pursuing in novel-form? “It’s got to give you a kind of glimmer,
  • Watch out for words that repeat too often.
  • Don’t start a paragraph with the same word as previous one. That goes doubly for sentences.
  • Stay in the tense.
  •  Inspect your ‘hads’ and see if you really need them.
  • Never use ‘amongst.’ ‘Among.’ Never use ‘whilst.’ Anyone who uses ‘whilst’ is subliterate.
  • Try not to write sentences that absolutely anyone could write.
  • You write the book you want to read. That’s my rule.
  • You have to have a huge appetite for solitude.