I’ve just come in from a few hours at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, where mostly, I chatted with Paul House about this and that.
If you want the truth.
But one of the things that I fancy we both agree on is the need for more reading to inform the writing. Because reading those classics, which so many people think is passe, does inform our minds, does give us a framework of imagery and ideas…
We were talking at one point about W. Somerset Maugham, who, sadly, no one but us seems to be reading any longer. Now this is quite wrong.
Because he was a tremendous novelist with a great deal to say. He also wrote some of the finest short stories in the English language. And he was a sell-out playwright as well. (So, you could say, he was obviously doing something right…)
But beyond that, I could make a joke about his work, Cakes and Ale, and House could ask “Maugham’s or Shakespeare’s cakes”? And both authors inform our literary landscape.
And I rather think that from there, we drifted into a discussion of House’s newest novel PIGS, and how it may or may not have been influenced by Women in Love.
We also met some lovely people there, I should say. And that is always the best thing about these events. And we even heard that dread word, the word so many people have been trying to consign to the dustbin for the obsolete, literature. Which also was quite exciting.
But one of the great things about reading is that here are these works by great authors, and in their works, they’re there, showing you all the most superlative literary tricks, techniques, how to handle dialogue, plot, character, imagery…and it’s all there for free. Dickens. Maugham. Priestley. Fitzgerald. Woolf. Wodehouse…to name a few favourites.
Because everything you want to know? It’s all there.