I’ve begun a writing workshop at The Factory, taught by Pat McCabe. It’s strangely refreshing to say so. It’s a taught class, about becoming a writer. It’s not an experimental thing, it’s not free form and chatty and go with the flow. It’s taught. And Pat McCabe is teaching it. He argues that writing is probably not teachable really, but he believes that some aspects are. There are rules, that can guide writing and conduct it, or force the writer to break the rules, to rebel and subvert and ignore. When I arrived up into the attic room at the factory there he was, sitting in the least dominant seat in the U-shaped arrangement of tables, the one near the corners, facing us, the writers, as we came up the stairs and into the space.
He sat with a confusion of paper back books and magazines piled before him in a fan shape, all with their front covers and pages pulled behind their back, forcing them to submit their wisdom or vices at a glance. I found it a very heartening and stimulating sight. And I found Pat a much less intimidating creature than the strange caricature illustration of him stamped upon the advertisement for the course. Appearances…
Baby Pig. Remove two thirds. The art of recognition. Atomize. Demolish. Annihilate. Soft and Fuzzy. Become Technical. It’s a nervous thing. Information needs to bring you somewhere. It’s no good if it’s got no dynamic, no thrust. No narrative. And we have to split ourselves in two. Which suits me. I’m sick of pretending. I don’t really mind the anxiety of influence. It’s a bit of an illusion to pretend there’s any other possibility. We are absorbent folk. A suitcase full of half finished stories under the bed. Someone posted on the facebook this morning of a dream about a broken laptop, phone and a black bag of single after-eight mints. And terror police. “Oh that story was too much like Dostoevsky”, he said. It’s quite alright to have a personality. And, wonderfully enough, it’s quite alright to have Style. These are declarations I can sense my old design tutors twitching at.
Here we go indeed.