The writing process

Transcript of a filmed talk with author Christopher Rush about how he writes.

Well, I have a very specific way of writing. For a start I like to rise early. The brain works fantastically for me at five in the morning. A cold shower. Cold shower or cold bath. Hot coffee and then to the desk.

For me it's pencil and paper. I still write the way I was taught by Miss Sangster I think or Miss Bellsbie in St Monans primary one in 1949. And I still slope my writing towards the door as we were taught to do in those days.

But basically, to be serious, I'm comfortable with the feel of a pencil. You know there's an old-fashioned idea that the goose quill they used in the old days was taken from a living animal and, you know, there's a kind of life force goes through you, down through your arm and out through the good quill. It doesn't happen like that. of course, but I'm comfortable with it.

I've never learned to use a computer. I've tried once or twice and got so frustrated with it that I wanted to kick it. You can't kick something that costs £1,000. So no. Pencil, rubber, sharpener. And I always write on a kind of A4 writing pad. Always only one one side of the paper, the right hand side. Then if I want to make changes, I can put them in on the left hand side. So it's a simple way of working.

By the time you're done. of course, the page starts to look like a battlefield. Pencil, blue marks, red marks, black marks, different colours of ink. I always hesitate to move to the typewriter, because as soon as I've typed something and I see it in print, as it were, it achieves a kind of fixity that may well be false.

I have too much respect for the printed word, I suppose, so I always delay until the last possible moment before moving to the typewriter and bashing it out on a fairly old-fashioned typewriter. And even then, of course — well, I have my script before me, but as soon as you start typing you'll be changing the script in the action between your head and the typewriter keys and what's written on the page.

And I have to say, after it's typed very little gets changed after that, for me, anyway. Unless a publisher comes along and says: 'I want this changed'. But once it's typed, that's it.


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