HOW TO GET AHEAD BY NOT BEING TRUTHFUL – Mark Blayney

HOW TO GET AHEAD BY NOT BEING TRUTHFUL – Mark Blayney

Just now Thomas Keneally has been talking to us, telling us what a great vocation writing is because you are expected, professionally, to lie. ‘There’s no point in writing fiction if you’re not going to tell lies,” he said, with the most unusual laugh I’ve ever heard; something between an old car revving up and a pixie enjoying himself in a dubious fashion. A kind of ‘hee-hee-hwaaaagh’. Keneally, legendary author of Schindler’s Ark (or List, for film fans) told us about writing ‘factions’ – the landscape is real, but the characters and scenes are made up when needed. “I have tried to avoid fiction as much as possible,” he writes in the carefully phrased foreword to Schindler.

Lying, then, is a useful tool. We all diligently wrote this down in our notebooks. ‘We’ are 20 Wales-based writers chosen to be part of Hay Festival’s Writers at Work scheme, an Arts Council Wales initiative to help writers develop professionally. It’s a remarkable, well-conceived project that I feel privileged to be part of. Priceless for us personally, it offers the chance to learn from the best, network with the influential and have lots (and lots) of fun.

Keneally’s been my favourite so far; halfway in, we have a lot more to come, and I can’t wait. (That’s the truth.)

 

Photo by Sam Hardwick