Quotes on Writing by Gore Vidal

“You can improve your talent, but your talent is a given, a mysterious constant. You must make it the best of its kind.”

“I’ve always said, ‘I have nothing to say, only to add.’ And it’s with each addition that the writing gets done. The first draft of anything is really just a track.”

 

gore vidal

“The reason my early books are so bad is because I never had the time or the money to afford constant revisions.”

“That famous writer’s block is a myth as far as I’m concerned. I think bad writers must have a great difficulty writing. They don’t want to do it. They have become writers out of reasons of ambition. It must be a great strain to them to make marks on a page when they really have nothing much to say, and don’t enjoy doing it. I’m not so sure what I have to say but I certainly enjoy making sentences.”

“Constant work, constant writing and constant revision. The real writer learns nothing from life. He is more like an oyster or a sponge. What he takes in he takes in normally the way any person takes in experience. But it is what is done with it in his mind, if he is a real writer, that makes his art.”

“I’ll tell you exactly what I would do if I were 20 and wanted to be a good writer. I would study maintenance, preferably plumbing. … So that I could command my own hours and make a good living on my own time.”

“If a writer has any sense of what journalism is all about he does not get into the minds of the characters he is writing about. That is something, shall we say, Capote-esque—who thought he had discovered a new art form but, as I pointed out, all he had discovered was lying.”

“A book exists on many different levels. Half the work of a book is done by the reader—the more he can bring to it the better the book will be for him, the better it will be in its own terms.”

 

vidal 2

[When asked which genre he enjoys the most, and which genre comes easiest:]
“Are you happier eating a potato than a bowl of rice? I don’t know. It’s all the same. … Writing is writing. Writing is order in sentences and order in sentences is always the same in that it is always different, which is why it is so interesting to do it. I never get bored with writing sentences, and you never master it and it is always a surprise—you never know what’s going to come next.”

[When asked how he would like to be remembered:]
“I suppose as the person who wrote the best sentences in his time.”

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Megrahi is Dead

There was only one person convicted of the terrorist outrage that killed 270 people in December 1988. A Libyan, Megrahi, was convicted of the crime.

Pan-Am flight 103 exploded over the dark winter sky over Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire in Scotland. Everybody on the plane was killed. Many people on the ground also died.  

Is it possible that the carnage that day resulted from the actions of only one man? Two individuals were tried but only Megrahi was convicted. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Scottish jail where they built a mosque to allow him to worship while he served his sentence. No other prisoners in Scotland have had the benefit of specifically designed places of worship, although freedom of worship is a human right permitted to all prisoners in Scotland.

Megrahi’s life sentence was the punishment that many relatives, particularly of his American victims, believed should mean that the prisoner lived the rest of his life behind bars. It would have meant at least that had he been tried in the USA.

However, Scotland has always prided itself on having a compassionate legal system. As a result of this, when Megrahi was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer he was released from jail in Scotland and allowed to return home to Libya. This, the Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill said, was a decision taken on compassionate grounds as Megrahi would be dead in 3 months.

Mr McAskill’s judgement has been called into question many times. What compassion Megrahi showed to his victims was not clarified by the Justice Secretary or his cabinet colleagues.

However, Megrahi died on 20 May, 2012, almost 3 years after his release from a Scottish jail. Gone, but not forgotten, by the relatives of his 270 victims, nor by Kenny McAskill.

SA

 

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart in WK

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

The National Theatre of Scotland brought their performance of “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” to West Kilbride’s Village Hall. It was exciting to have performers of this standard come to the village. Unsurprisingly, the show quickly sold out.

The play was written by David Greig a Scottish playwright whose other works include Outlying Islands (2002) and The Architect which was made into a film in 2006. So it was no surprise that this works was thought provoking and entertaining.

david grieg

It began with an excellent renditions of “The Twa Corbies” and music played an important part in the performance which tells the story of the straight laced academic, Prudencia Hart. She is a serious child of bookish parents and enters the world of academe. The main story revolves around a conference in Kelso at which the staid Prudencia speaks to her thesis “The Topography of Hell” while her arch academic rival Colin Sinclair offers a much more modern approach to the Border Ballads. The first part of the play is performed in rhyme.

After the conference Prudencia and Colin find themselves stuck in the border town due to a severe snowfall. Colin tries to get Prudencia to unwind, but fails. He joins in the karaoke at the pub with the locals while Prudencia sets off alone to find the B&B Colin has booked for them. She gets lost in a housing scheme and finds herself in a version of Hell that allows her time for self-discovery. The dialogue with a mysterious singer and the devil converts to prose and the second half of the play is much less tightly scripted than the first.

The Hell into which Prudencia descends surrounds her with books which she, alone with the devil, inhabits. Millenia pass. In her bid to escape from Hell Prudencia persuades the devil that he needs to experience life as a human. Ironically it is her nemisis, Colin, dressed only in his boxers who facilitates her escape. A riotous musical finale ensues.

pru 1

Ballads and Karaoke numbers enhance the play. Music helps to change scene and attitude. Minimal stage settings allowed the small multi-talented cast to bring this provocative new play to the Village Hall of West Kilbride.

SA

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart: A Review
West Kilbride Village Hall, Tuesday 1st May 2012

Take five energetic, multi-tasking actor-musicians, a pawky script and a sell-out audience, and you have a recipe for success. The handful of players from the National Theatre of Scotland merited their enthusiastic response and made more of David Greig’s uneven script than perhaps it deserved. Wils Wilson’s direction showed great ingenuity in conjuring car and motorbike rides, whilst scenes of Hell, housing estates and the blizzards of 2010 were similarly spirited from minimal items of furniture, costume and shredded napkins.

pru 2
Prudencia Hart is a scholar of the ‘old school’. Her study of folklore centres on the objective interpretation of ballads and their associated contemporary records. Her thesis on ‘The Topography of Hell’ describes the features of the underworld as depicted in the texts of traditional songs. Such diligent and detached scholarship has become deeply unfashionable amongst a trendy academic community besotted with subjective experiences and bodily engagements. That is why we now have a generation of journalists writing in the first person, intent on drawing the reader into their corporeal encounter with situations, rather than simply reporting the news.
Prudencia finds herself in Kelso, as the lone representative of ‘old school’ historical studies at a conference on the Border Ballad. Whilst her fellow speakers spout their post-structuralist notions to appreciative delegates, Prudencia is embarrassed into an early departure. That is, she would have departed if deepening snowdrifts hadn’t forced her to seek refuge with the others in a local hostelry. Her nemesis, Colin the darling of post-structuralism, does his unsuccessful best to loosen the bodice strings that repress her physically and intellectually. All this is far more entertaining than it sounds, and Greig’s ingenious rhyming couplets energise a situation with high comic potential.
It was, you might say, a play of two halves. If the first half was crisp and comprehensible, the second was more allegorical and baffling. It was as if the manager had berated his team at half time for playing entertaining and skilful football, but failing to test the opposing goalie.
Prudencia, wandering in the snow to find a B-and-B, starts to enter into a Border Ballad. She is the weary traveller, encountering a haunting songstress, led by a mysterious stranger, only to be lured into the underworld. Her detached, analytical understanding of the topography of Hell is nothing like the real thing. Subjective engagement with the place makes it seem more like her idea of paradise; Old Nick himself may be a little creepy, but is hardly a vile tormenter. Glimpses of the outside world – an Asda store that apparently lasts longer than a medieval cathedral and a lock-in party at a Kelso pub – seem far more Faustian. In the end, her escape depends on persuading the devil that he too must experience embodiment and thus, ultimately, weariness and sleep. Prudencia’s final rescue by the valiant Colin, stripped to his Calvin Klein’s, is once more hugely entertaining and inventive.

pru 3
By the end, one is left wondering where Greig’s sympathies lie. Is he revelling at the old Prudencia being de-bunked and loosening her laces? Or is he cocking a snook at modern academia? Perhaps it takes a lay audience to see that trendy academic ‘emperors’ are clad only in their pretentious underwear, and not actually wearing fine new clothes? Perhaps the Old Masters were not wrong, after all.

PS

Cotillo Beach Hotel, El Cotillo, Fuerteventura

Cotillo Beach Hotel, El Cotillo, Fueteventura

 My husband and I booked this hotel on an all-inclusive basis having looked at other reviews here.  We needed  a cheap, relaxing sunny break to give us some relief from theUKwinter.  We were very pleased with all aspects if the holiday.  The resort is small and very quiet off season. This suited us, but if you are looking for shops, pubs or clubs you would be better to choose a bigger resort.

This hotel is set around a rectangular court yard with the swimming pool, plenty of loungers and chairs and tables in the middle. It is all very pretty and well maintained. The restaurant serves a wide variety of food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the restaurant is not open snacks are available in the bar.  The food caters for a variety of Nationalities. There were British, French, Spanish Italians and Germans in the Hotel when we were there.  The chef cooks some variety of fresh fish or meat each lunch and dinner time.  The coffee is delicious and if you want to you can drink alcohol continually from 10am-11pm!

The hotel is on the edge of the town a few yards from the coast and at the bus terminal if you want to take a trip to Corralejo. There are some lovely coastal walks and a wide variety or plants & birds to spot nearby.  The hotel has tennis, table tennis darts and various other activities organised. There was always something on in the evenings. Sometimes karaoke, bingo or live entertainment

The staff are all really friendly & helpful. They are extremely hard working and could not have been more helpful.

If I wanted to nit-pick I would tell you that as the staff cover the dining room and bar at the same time we sometimes had to wait quite a long time (several minutes) to be served in the bar if we went in during mealtimes and the puddings were very similar throughout our stay, but these things are very minor. 

We had a lovely holiday and would certainly go back to this hotel.

SA

 

SA

Norbeck Castle Hotel, Blackpool, England

Norbeck Castle Hotel, Blackpool, England

On the evening of the 31st Dec. after dinner, my friend won the star raffle prize ; a weekend for two in a Britannia hotel. However when she went up to claim her prize she received nothing, not even a note to confirm she had won, and was told to see the manager the following day. The next morning she went to reception only to be told they knew nothing of the matter, but told her to come back in the afternoon as a manager would be present. This she did, but the female manager didn’t know anything and told her another manager would be in later. When we entered for dinner my friend again approached the female manager but got no further. After dinner all four of us went up to ask that someone in authority who could fix this matter be found. The on duty manager was sent for and finally arrived at our table.
He immediately began to berate my friend for “intimidating his staff” with her constant enquiries, and that this was a huge hotel which needed to be run with military precision, obviously not in this area, and why would she expect them to give her anything about her holiday right away. We were all witnesses to this and couldn’t believe our ears. He would not stop talking to her long enough to hear what she had to say or he would have learnt that she had been put through an entire day of hassle where she was passed from pillar to post because no-one could answer a simple question of how she could claim her prize. I tried to get him to listen and he accused me of intimidating him, nine people at the table could confirm that this was nonsense. I then said to him “you need to shut up long enough to hear , what she has to say”, whereupon he stormed off saying “I’m not putting up with that”. All nine of us were stunned at this total lack of management skills not to mention interpersonal skills from a man who thought he could dominate an elderly female pensioner. All he had to do to solve the problem was to tell her how to claim her prize, and an apology for all she had been put through would not have been amiss. The next day we were leaving early in the morning
and finally when she went to reception they gave her a very simple note, the one she should have received on winning the raffle, stating that the voucher would be sent to her within two weeks of her returning home. Why could she not have been told this and saved all the unpleasantness. The net result is that at least seven people will not be returning to this hotel.

EAW

Cotillo Beach Hotel, El Cotillo, Fuerteventura

Cotillo Beach Hotel, El Cotillo, Fueteventura

 My husband and I booked this hotel on an all-inclusive basis having looked at other reviews here.  We needed  a cheap, relaxing sunny break to give us some relief from theUKwinter.  We were very pleased with all aspects if the holiday.  The resort is small and very quiet off season. This suited us, but if you are looking for shops, pubs or clubs you would be better to choose a bigger resort.

This hotel is set around a rectangular court yard with the swimming pool, plenty of loungers and chairs and tables in the middle. It is all very pretty and well maintained. The restaurant serves a wide variety of food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the restaurant is not open snacks are available in the bar.  The food caters for a variety of Nationalities. There were British, French, Spanish Italians and Germans in the Hotel when we were there.  The chef cooks some variety of fresh fish or meat each lunch and dinner time.  The coffee is delicious and if you want to you can drink alcohol continually from 10am-11pm!

The hotel is on the edge of the town a few yards from the coast and at the bus terminal if you want to take a trip to Corralejo. There are some lovely coastal walks and a wide variety or plants & birds to spot nearby.  The hotel has tennis, table tennis darts and various other activities organised. There was always something on in the evenings. Sometimes karaoke, bingo or live entertainment

The staff are all really friendly & helpful. They are extremely hard working and could not have been more helpful.

If I wanted to nit-pick I would tell you that as the staff cover the dining room and bar at the same time we sometimes had to wait quite a long time (several minutes) to be served in the bar if we went in during mealtimes and the puddings were very similar throughout our stay, but these things are very minor. 

We had a lovely holiday and would certainly go back to this hotel.

SA