One of the pleasures of visiting events like the Dhaka Lit Fest is the chance to meet and discover amazing writers that the average reader living in Bangladesh would not otherwise probably never even hear of - given the paucity of bookstores and reading spaces in the city.
This year, the discovery that will probably stick with yours truly has undoubtedly been UK writer/teacher/translator Richard Beard. Author of six novels, including Lazarus is Dead
and Dry Bones and Damascus,
Beard is also the Director of the National Academy of Writing, in London. Between his two panels and editing workshop at the DLF, to the interview he was kind enough to grant us, the man has given us plenty of food for thought for anyone attempting to write. Here are three quotes that make great lessons.
“When you start off as a novelist you write about your own life, so you have maybe 2-3 books in you where you can write about what's happened to you, and then there comes a point where you run out of stuff. Then either you can stop being a novelist, or you can write about something else, and you find what interests you in a different subject.”
“The first time you put something on a page it's a process of loss. You're losing this idea that you've had in your head, which is often very perfect in your head. When you put it down on paper and it becomes something which is mediocre, substandard. Then you rewrite it. Every time you rewrite it, it gets better and that's where the joy comes.”
On what makes a good story
“I think a good story is one where you stay in the story. It can be about anything; it can be as long, or as short, but there has to be a part of you which is entirely engrossed by it. That doesn't mean you have to be immersed in the story; you might be immersed in the language, you might be immersed in the technical skills, but it has to completely involve you in what it's doing.”