Friday, March 19, 2010

The rules according to Dyer...

Have you read Geoff Dyer's Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi?
It's about Jeff Atman, an arts journalist who doubles as a travel writer. You know, holidays thinly disguised as work. 
The first part of the book, tripping through the muddled streets of Venice on the arts/party circuit during the Biennale, was engrossing. 
The second part, sliding into an impenetrable state of malaise in Varanasi, just about put me into a coma. Which was perhaps the intention.
Dyer was in Australia a week or two ago for Writers' Week at the Adelaide Festival and is apparently a sparklingly intelligent and entertaining man. Although the India part of his book really didn't do it for me, I do like the advice he gave aspiring writers in The Guardian last month. Among a swag of authors asked to contribute '10 Rules for Writing Fiction', Dyer's first point was particularly resonant:
Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over – or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: "I'm writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job." Publisher: "That's exactly what makes me want to stay in my job."
Sometimes I think my book will be so obscure no one could possibly be interested in reading it. Then I think, stuff it, write it anyway and at least my lovely family and friends will have to give it a go...:)

* A book tree (above). Not sure where this photo was taken but it proves the limitless possibilities of the humble book.

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