Essays: Guest Writers |
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Guest Writers

Calling people Guest Writers is probably not the most precise way of distinguishing them from Guest Poets, since poets are writers too. But the nomenclature has the merit of being simple. For all the Guest Writers here (posted in their order of joining) prose is the main means of expression even when they are expert poets as well. Some of these writers work as journalists. For most of my professional life I have worked as a journalist myself, and I have always unreservedly subscribed to Jean-Francois Revel's supposedly controversial principle that there are no genres, only talents. Good writing can come from anywhere, even from the withdrawn spiritual contemplation of the suitably subsidised hermit; but it is most likely to come from writers who are in contact with everyday reality; a condition that journalism tends to enforce. Karl Kraus said a journalist was a writer who, given more time, writes worse, but Kraus himself was a kind of journalist, and anyway he was a better aphorist than essayist. Backed up by a trust-fund and well able to turn up his nose at journeywork, he loftily despised the essay, the piece, and the feuilleton, but it could have been because he had trouble composing them. If a beginner is sensitive enough to his own deficiencies, he soon discovers, head in hands, that composition is three quarters of the trick. You can have all the vocabulary there is, and any amount of linguistic inventiveness, but you have to learn to put it all in the right order. My Guest Writers are chosen for being able to do that, and my hope is that some of the visitors who enjoy what is here to be read will be lured into trying to figure out how it was written. Somebody else's original gift can't be duplicated, but the study of it can always help to make us a more careful guardian of our own. Meanwhile, even if the reader has no plans to be a writer himself, there is always an extra fascination in watching a craftsman at work. Writing in any form is never just the style, but it isn't just the subject either.

(Painting: detail from 'I have heard of your paintings too, well enough...' by Ophelia Redpath)