Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Good News - delivered in person.

One of The Press Christchurch Writer's Festival sessions I anticipated the most was When Will There Be Good News? An hour with Kate Atkinson. I've been a fan of her Jackson Brodie novels, and am now 3/4 of the way through the latest.

One of the most interesting things I got out of the session was the immense difference hearing the writer read from their book makes. I was several chapters in at this point, and was enjoying the book, and finding it relatively dark. But when Kate Atkinson read from it in the tone and voice she had intended, it made me recognise an almost tongue in cheek humour that my internal reading voice had missed. It has quite a wicked humour. My brain has borrowed her reading voice for the rest of the novel.

As a little aside, when at the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival I heard Heather O'Neill read from Lullabies for Little Criminals, and her voice lent Baby an extra vulnerability my head voice would not have.

This goes to illustrate, that an individual reader brings a different viewpoint with them to a novel, depending on their own character, life experiences and state of being at the time. What the reader garners from it may be nothing like what was intended by the author.

One of the highlights of the talk was hearing Kate Atkinson, international best selling superstar say out loud that she gets bored! Especially if she has plotted out a book and has no surprises to enjoy - which explains why her writing process tends to be more 'lets see what happens' rather than planned to within a inch of its life. That was such a refreshing statement to hear. It was like it gave a whole raft of writers permission to admit to themselves, and others, that this writing business can be dull, tedious, a bit of a chore on some days. But despite this, we plug on, and anticipate the days when the writing is an adventure, euphoric, a high.

So I shall too say out loud - sometimes I feel bored. There, done it, I feel better now.

1 comment:

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks for this post Vanda. I've been meaning to write up my notes on Atkinson too. I loved her eccentricity and quirkiness -- the black humour is terrific -- and her approach to writing is so mine. I took the 'get bored' comment as meaning she bores herself unless she lets herself be surprised by the novel as she goes. I've felt like that with a full synopsis in front of me for novel no. 2. It feels so dull! It's like I've already written it! And I LOVED what she said about second novels. Not to write what readers expect or want of you (I'm paraphrasing) but to write what you want to write. Great stuff. With that in mind I've hurtled back in to novel 2 (after a desperate post this morning). Fingers crossed.