Creative writing

Literary charades: The Writing School, by Miranda France, reviewed

A recent YouGov survey found that 60 per cent of Britons dream of being writers, compared with 31 per cent who dream of being film stars. Although the chances of success, or even subsistence, are equally remote in both professions, aspirant authors flock to the country’s ever-proliferating creative writing courses. Miranda France’s splendid third book, blending fact and fiction, is set on one such course: a week-long residency in a rural retreat house, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Arvon Foundation at which France has taught. The unnamed narrator, a Spanish translator and travel writer with two novels to her name, leads an eclectic group of 12

For a creative writing exercise in lockdown, revisit George Perec

Those who have been on creative writing courses may be familiar with the ‘I remember’ exercise. The two words become a prompt for whatever you recall, and can lead to a fruitful ramble into senses and impressions worth plundering later. It could be useful during a lockdown (‘I remember the water cooler/my girlfriend coming round/trains’) and at any time can evoke feelings of nostalgia. The painter and poet Joe Brainard created the form, and his sequences of recollections snowballed into I Remember (1975), a sensual memoir of his childhood in Oklahoma (‘I remember my first erection’). The wonderful Georges Perec heard about it from a friend. He didn’t read Brainard,