01 July 2007

AnthonyTrollope and Writing

Continuing with the theme of how great, or even mediocre, writers write, I was listening to a recorded version of Anthony Trollope's "Barchester Towers" and learned that:

Trollope considered himself a craftsman rather than an artist creating great literature. He wrote to support himself and his family. Since he also had a job with the post office, he set himself a rigid schedule for producing prose. He was up and at his writing desk by 5:30 every morning and by the time he went to breakfast had finished his writing for the day. He was able to do this by setting his watch on the desk and forcing himself to crank out 250 words every fifteen minutes.

How could he do that? I have trouble writing that fast for my Matins, which is simply stream of consciousness writing with no thought whatsoever with what I am saying. Not only did he make sense, he produced a steady flow of novels that are still popular.



At 01 July, 2007 03:55, Anonymous Dominic Edwardes said...

Anthony Trollope was a remarkable man. He wrote his first novel in his late thirties and went on to have 47 published. He said

'An author can hardly hope to be popular unless he can use popular language ... But all this must be learned and acquired, not while he is writing ... but long before. His language must come from him as music comes from the rapid touch of the great performer's fingers.'

He famously wrote from 5am each morning before work, but also wrote on trains and on ships during the course of his work with the post office, travelling across the UK, Europe, Middle East, Australia, Caribbean, South America, North America and South Africa. Everywhere he went, he wrote.

His books were hugely popular, at times outselling Dickens. He said that 'every word must tend to entertain' and his books certainly do. Once it became know that he wrote to a schedule, after the publication of An Autobiography (which he left to his son in his will), his popularity waned.

A group of nine library reading groups in London have just read 'Barchester Towers' to celebrate its 150th Anniversary this year - and the members of the reading group thoroughly enjoyed it, saying that it wasn't at all what they expected, and that the laughed out loud - so, if you haven't done so yet, pick up a Trollope!

You can find out more information on Trollope, his life and work as well as his novels and characters at the Trollope Society's new website www.anthonytrollope.com

At 01 July, 2007 20:42, Blogger Clemens said...

Thanks for the extra info Dominic. I now know why I am not a famous writer. The only way I have ever seen 5 am is when I stay up all night.

At 02 July, 2007 18:38, Blogger Anactoria said...

I've read that too (about Trollope and his writing)! Maybe one is more likely to be motivated when one's livelihood is what's at stake...? :)

At 02 July, 2007 20:26, Blogger Clemens said...

True. In my line of work what REALLY earns my pay is teaching, but I am also expected to "publish." (We don't even call it "writing")


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