The rest is easy (a found poem)

Murderous penguin books

Crime stabbed fiction (by Jonathan Wolstenholme via Points de Fuite)

I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently. When I was feeling a bit disheartened today I revisited the Guardian’s good old Rules for Writing Fiction (though the rules could apply to writing anything). After reading them, I found myself a bit more disheartened. So I went and wrote this poem.

The rest is easy

I like a lot of talk in a book

and I don’t like to have nobody tell me

what the guy that’s talking looks like

I want to figure out what he looks like

from the way he talks.

Never say “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”.

The reader will just leaf ahead

looking for people.

When an idea comes, spend silent time with it.

Good ideas are often murdered

by better ones. Afterwards

it won’t matter to you that the kitchen’s a mess.

The rest is easy.

Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge

from a few brief keystrokes.

On the page they flare

into desire. A lot of men still think that women

lack imagination of the fiery kind.

I once noticed Mary McCarthy

ending a line of dialogue with

“she asseverated”

and I had to stop reading.

If it was bad when it went in the drawer

it will be worse when it comes out.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch

then spent the afternoon answering fan mail.

No amount of black pullovers or being

publicly obnoxious

will ever add up to your being a writer.

Your own life will never have


Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House 

before he started writing it.

But if you’re writing a novel with a contemporary setting

there need to be long passages where nothing happens

save for TV watching.

Don’t write in public places.

Don’t make telephone calls or go to a party.

No going to London.

No going anywhere else either.

The first twelve years are the worst.

If nobody will put your play on

put it on yourself. No one cares.

Don’t write letters

to the editor. No one cares.

Read Keats’s letters.

In my 30s I used to go to the gym

even though I hated it. Was I performing a haka,

or just shuffling my feet?

But it is the gestation time

which counts. Writers

write. On you go.

Hemingway by Tom GauldHemingway by Tom Gauld

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
This entry was posted in Poetry, Working. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The rest is easy (a found poem)

  1. Sarah Laing says:

    Oh I love it! Particularly the repetition of ‘no one cares’ and the line ‘the first 12 years are the hardest’. I shall print it out in case I start writing again.


    • Bill says:

      The fiirst 12 years are the hardest, was my favourite line too. I thought it was 10 years. Damn.


      • Yeah, Anne Enright said that: “The first 12 years are the hardest.” She also says “Only bad writers think that their work is really good.” It’s all pretty browbeating stuff! She also says, though, “Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. … You can also do all that with whiskey.” Hmmm….


        • Marty Schofield says:

          Such excellent advice. I apply it to eating too – just cook the good stuff simply and cleanly. Why eat crap if you have don’t have to? of course, if whiskey is involved, I’ll eat anything after a little while.


  2. Pingback: Starting back | modernlettuce

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s