After six novels, five story collections and two books of non-fiction, and countless international prizes, A.L. Kennedy certainly has the authority to talk about the craft of writing books – it’s just a wonder she’s found the time. These are missives from the authorial front line – urgent and vivid, full of the excitement, fury and frustration of trying to make thousands of words into a publishable book. At the core of On Writing is the hugely popular blog that Kennedy writes for the Guardian – and we follow her during a three-year period when she finished one collection of stories and started another, and wrote a novel in between. Readers and aspiring writers will have almost everything they need to know about the complexities of researching, writing and publishing fiction, but they will be receiving this wisdom conversationally, from one of the funniest and most alert of our contemporary authors.
Alongside the blogs are brilliant essays on character, voice, writers’ workshops and writers’ health and the book ends with the transcript of Kennedy’s celebrated one-person show about writing and language that she has performed round the world to huge acclaim. Read together, all these pieces add up to the most intimate master-class imaginable from one of the finest – and most humane – writers in our language.
It’s a pleasure to gain access to the thoughts of someone so unashamedly committed to the importance of stories. Written largely as blogs, these memorable, often very funny snapshots of Kennedy’s life also contain much better advice for would-be writers than more overtly practical guides.
Observations, both lucid and passionate, on the general state of the book trade and literary culture... Yet it’s the manoeuvres she uses and the structures she creates in order to let art happen in her own life that form the kernel of the book.
Invaluable advice to authors...her humour – often sardonic, never malicious – is deployed to great effect.
On Writing is wit, sadness and aphorism for the writer, reader, and human alike.
The life-saving blog is the jam in the sandwich of her book, the sweetener before her revealing stand-up comic routine/memoir and more considered essays that give it professional literary substance.
It could be time to realise those literary ambitions. Award-winning Scottish novelist A.L. Kennedy reveals her 4 golden rules for a successful novel writing experience