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Not much to report from this week (other than today); I've been… - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Feb. 20th, 2005

12:43 am

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Date:February 20th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)
In fairness his comment wasn't part of his own presentation, it was his off-the-cuff response to a question put to him by Gwyneth Jones during her session after I'd asked her something on the same lines; and he was using "you" as an impersonal pronoun, and really was referring to himself. What he obviously meant was, "Unless I can sense the imagined world as well as I can sense the real world, I think I shouldn't be writing about it".

But interestingly when someone (was it you?) put that back to him during his own panel, he admitted that it takes him about 30,000 words to be sure that he has that sense even in his own writing. And it's pretty clear that there are many writers who don't have the same vivid sense of experiencing their work that he and Gwyneth Jones obviously do (indeed I suspect Brian Stableford, from what he said about writing during his session, may be one of them).
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Date:February 20th, 2005 11:13 am (UTC)
Thanks to all of you who've commented so far, and if your interpretations of what he meant were correct then I have no quarrel with those sentiments. I generally try to avoid whining about my condition, but I do get a bit touchy when someone seems to be rubbing my nose in it (no pun intended).

As mentioned above, I wasn't around for Gwyneth Jones' talk, so that is some extra context that I wasn't aware of. It wasn't me who asked the question in his session - as I recall, the dialogue went like this:
Q: "I heard you say that 'if you can't see it, hear it, and smell it, you have no business writing about it'"
A: "Well, that's not quite what I said. I actually said that if you can't see it, hear it, and smell it, then you shouldn't be writing it."
Personally, I don't really see the difference between the two statements, but I'm trying to quote him accurately.

As for the pronoun issue, I assumed that he meant "you" in the general sense (the equivalent of "one"), rather than referring specifically to the person in the audience who asked the question. (As in, "If you see a fire then you should call 999".) But it seems slightly odd that he would use it to refer specifically to himself, since there's a perfectly good first person pronoun available for that. Being snarky, I'd say that if he can't handle that then it's his own writing skills that need attention. (Although in fairness, if he was trying and failing to say that then he wasn't actually criticising other people, so it's a little harsh for me to say "sort yourself out first".) But anyway, I would say if you're correct about his meaning then it wasn't obvious to me, even if it was to everyone else.
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Date:February 20th, 2005 09:56 pm (UTC)
The quesstion asked of him was indeed a misquote, he made the same statement in Gwyneth's and his own talks the person who asked the question misquoted him as "if you can't see, it hear it, and smell it, you have no business writing" ie they left out the fact that it's that specific bit you shouldn't be writing.

I agree with what he said with the obvious footnote/disclaimer as Kake put it. If you (people in general) can't visualise in your head what a scene/character/object in your fiction looks like, you shouldn't try to explain it, because it's not going to be natural and consistant. Whether you can get away with writing the story without describing that bit of it is another matter entirely.

The whole thing developed out of Gwyneth's discussions of how she fully imerses herself in her created world and how far this went towards being delusional ;0)
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