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The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing


这书我惦记已久,拿起三次,放下三次,皆因为太贵的缘故。273页,定价要£14.99,平均每页差不多要一块钱。亚马逊上也只便宜几十P而已。既然快走了,就下决心买下来。所谓Creative Writing,可以翻译成“创作”。这是一本介绍英文新闻、特写、散文、小说、戏剧、诗歌写作的入门书。买的时候我就想,说不定哪天我一高兴用英文写出本三部曲,大卖特卖,那样上千倍的本钱也收回来了。再不济,学得一两手,到丽江开个《英语创作津梁》讲座也不错。要叫“津梁”,这样就会有大量的文艺女青年报名,如果叫“入门”的话,报名的都是和菜头手下的小办事员,唧唧歪歪讲价不说,而且还会向你要求虚开发票。


Deadlines as lifelines

One huge aid to the writing-rewriting dynamic is the deadline. It forces savage action. Like form or design, the deadline is not a prison to creation. It offers a promised release from the self-created prison of indolence, of not writing. It is as liberating as form, despite the sensation that it makes time weigh upon the act of writing. But that weight is not just the weight of expectation; it is also the weight of anticipation. Deadlines are good for us, stern though they may seem.

A deadline is like a supervisor who tells you impolitely to get on with it. The deadline pays heed to your writing; it does not pay heed to your life. The deadline set for the submission of a student’s portfolio of writing pays little heed to the different ways that students write, learn and live. The date is the same for everybody, and only illness or accident can provide excuses. The deadline is a necessary falsification of time. What’s more, somebody else has usually placed it in your calendar, which can make it feel almost like a physical threat. The threat is that some reward will not come your way should you fail to meet it. Those rewards can include the score your work receives or an advance of money. It may include promotion, sales, or the praise of a tutor, editor, critic or reader.

In the writing business, deadlines are a fact. Writers working in the media, especially, write against them daily, even hourly, and the practice of journalism provides outstanding training not only in punctuality and brinkmanship, but also in economy and clarity. Hemingway received his training on the Kansas City Star:’On the Star you were forced to learn to write a simple declarative sentence. This is useful to anyone. Newspaper work will not harm a young writer and could help him if he gets out of it in time.’

Deadlines demand concision and conclusion; at some point, a piece of writing is as complete as it can be. The threat and the reward hanging over that final process are usually external factors. Acadamic years trot their tidy schedules; newspapers net their copy; publishers pump out books on schedule, in tandem with the schedules of their marketing and sales departments. In the middle of these demands, the writer sits with their stalled or stilted creations, with both eyes on the clock. I suggest you seize back the initiative, and use the power of time as a motivation to write. By setting your own deadline (it must be earlier that the official deadline), you take control of the process psychologically. You will also learn to appreciate how your deadline then gives form to the way you write and even to you conduct your life around that, as we explored in the section on discipline.


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