& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All writing is rewriting

The Summer Workshop at Humber School of Writers is focused and intense. It'll be more so from Monday.

Today (Sunday) was special. Martin Amis, the English author, spoke to the participants, read a review and chatted with Antanas Sileika.

Amis doesn’t share the gloom that permeates the world of the printed word. He was the star of the day but he wears his celebrity hood lightly. Amis is among the 15 writers that met their group at the workshop today. Among them are writers of such eminence as Isabel Huggan, Nino Ricci, and Wayson Choy.

Amis read his recent review of John Updike’s collection of short stories. For me – and I believe for Amis – Updike is an icon.

I felt squeamish when Amis did a thorough job in detailing why Updike’s collection of short stories doesn’t work. But his review ends with high praise: “Updike's creations live, and authorial love is what sustains them. He put it very plainly in his memoir, Self-Consciousness: ‘Imitation is praise. Description expresses love.’ That love, at least, never began to weaken.”

The three most purposeful sessions at the workshop were:

I don’t mean that the others sessions were not. The sessions with Humber’s students who have become published authors was also insightful.

Then I met Isabel Huggan. When Humber’s Madeleine Matte had informed me that I’d be assisting Huggan, I had borrowed her book The Elizabeth Stories from the library at The Village Terraces, where I worked as a security guard. I wrote about the book here in April.

Today, when I met her, she came across as a strong-willed and focussed. A superb writer, who I’m sure is also a brilliant teacher.

Memorable quote from Huggan: “All writing is rewriting.”

Image: Martin Amis: http://www.ica.org.uk/thumbnail.php?max=408&id=2880

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