• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 13, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

    A little critical input for all you writers

    Laurence Mackin

    When you work or are engaged in the arts, the best thing you can probably hope for is constructive criticism of your work. Yes, everyone loves to hate a critic, but solid, informed opinions can tell you an awful lot more about your own work then any amount of friends’ rave reviews. Most artists or musicians, when they get a bad review, have a tendency to feel misunderstood, but the good ones will suck it up and see what there is to learn from it (this assumes, of course, that the critic is up to the job, but in my experience, if they are writing for a reputable source, then there will be a grain of truth to what they have to say).

    One writer pops into the Irish Times office for a chat after receiving a particularly scathing review

    Good criticism and a steady helping hand are not easy to come by, and this is especially true for writers, which is why workshops and group sessions are a good option for those looking to improve their writing. Greg Baxter, no stranger to criticism himself from both sides of the literary fence, is organising a particularly interesting course simply called Prose through his Some Blind Alleys online entity.

    Baxter will be leading the 10-week course from February 21st, with one two-hour class per week on Nassau Street in Dublin. Those wishing to apply must submit 1,500 words of fiction and non-fiction (combined), so expect the class to know the shape of things. The idea, says Baxter, is to “find a way, through literature, to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. We are going to try to connect words to the sensation of being alive today. We are not going to write fiction or nonfiction. We’re going to write prose, and we’re going to discuss perceived and possibly real differences between fiction and autobiography.”

    Participants will begin a large piece that will take shape as the course develops, and the reading commitment will be heavy.

    “This course suits people who are already committed to writing and thinking about writing, and who are prepared to read a lot, and discuss the reading enthusiastically in class,” says Baxter. “It won’t suit people who need deadlines, or who wonder why what they write isn’t getting published.” No journalist need apply then (heh heh).

    Baxter is setting the bar high with this one – among the writers on his ambitious reading list are Thomas Bernhard
, Muriel Spark
, Tolstoy, Kafka, 
Bruno Schulz, Wittgenstein, 
Lydia Davis,
Henry Miller
Czeslaw Milosz. If you reckon you are up to the challenge, get your pitches in to editor@someblindalleys.com by January 7th.

    • martin kavanagh says:

      No worthwhile writer ever came from a writing class. Skip this effort and remember, those who write do and those who can’t give writing classes or go to them.

    • robespierre says:

      He is taking the proust, all a bit low brow to me

    • Laurence Mackin says:

      Martin – Nonsense. People say the same thing to musicians and in my experience it’s total tosh. Education, learning, sound critical feedback is only a good thing.

      Robespierre – Ha ha. This is an edited list, there’s plenty more on there. Though no one could accuse any list with Milosz in it as being low brow.

    • M. Inxie says:

      That image above?
      No Laurence, that’s not a writer popping in to the Irish Times office — that’s just Fintan O’Toole exploding through the roof, as usual..!

      I kind of agree with martin above. The only person who could benefit from this kind of outpouring/conglomeration of ideas would be Baxter himself (probably suffering from writer’s block) who’ll know an original idea when he sees it and any experienced writer would know well how to tweak n stuff so to avoid plagiarism.

Search Pursued by a Bear