Sunday, August 09, 2009

Faulkner on technique

From the past few posts you may have guessed that I picked up a copy of the Paris Review interviews (vol 2) for a couple of quid in the cheap book shop the other day... Here's Faulkner on technique:

Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error.

I think this is the most important point about writing craft. And most people who call themselves writers aren't, because they simply don't write enough. I've been on a few writing forums in my time, and only one was good, because it made the writer write, write, write. On all the others, people hardly produce anything new; they just keep rewriting and rewriting the same damned thing. You aren't going to learn anything that way.


Anonymous said...

Tom, I stumbled across your blog whilst assessing critical view of McCarthy's fiction- he is by far my favourite writer. I have realised, however, that I admire him for seemingly different reasons to you, and I would be interested in discussing this with you if you would be likewise inclined. I would have written this out in a lengthy email but I couldn't find contact details anywhere- is there any chance I can have you email address? Apologies in advance if this is an unwelcome request.

Fly them.


Tom Conoboy said...

Hi Matthew

yes, I'd be delighted to discuss McCarthy with you. I'm trying to understand him, so any discussion is very welcome, especially if you have a different point of view from mine. You can email me at

tomconoboy at