Those of you that know me know of my abiding love for the works of Will Shakespeare. OMG! I love that man. The music in his words, his puns and double entendres, his passionate love scenes his love of the dramatic, his sense of the ridiculous. I wonder can men be bawds? If so Will was both bard and bawd. I read something recently about him and I’m para phrasing it here - I can’t remember it exactly nor the author. It described writers as magpies who love not shiny objects but interesting words, or little bits and pieces of information that are stored in the database in our brains to be taken out and mulled over and regurgitated in some piece we write, perhaps even years later.
Writers need a smattering of psychology and of philosophy. We don’t need to read all philosophies or examine all psychological analysis, we can simply rob something from a book on such weighty matters, we usually have inquisitive acquisitive minds. The internet was a godsend to us for it gives us access to information that might have required a lot of effort otherwise. You can tell a fiction writer from his\her library. Its contents will neither flatter the eye nor indicate any systematic capacity for reading. Instead of neat rows of well bound books you will find dog-eared books on witchcraft, animal training, second hand dictionaries and guides to punctuation and grammar. Un scholarly history books, travel books, some great writers some contemporary writers, some not so great writers who simply tell great tales, notebooks full of odd facts picked up in pubs, betting shops, knitting circles, cobblers, shops, on buses, in taxis, on the radio.
What no amount of academic training can bestow on any potential writer (and we all have potential) is the gift of words. It cannot teach the fundamental skill of putting words together in surprising patterns which seem to reflect some previously unguessed truth about life. And this was Will’s great ability – he told truths in a new way to an undereducated populace who lived short brutal lives. Of course they weren’t even then, new truths. All the great truths were already there, and have been since Man first stood erect and thought. People may not have experienced them at that stage but that does not mean they did not exist. So reading, reading widely and listening and observing are all vital to any writer of fiction and I believe that there must also be an innate curiousity about everything about ability to work things out for oneself.
Why am I telling yiz all this? Sure, ye probably knew it all already!