The Columnist
  George Brock
  Barry Quinlan
  Diane Petre
  Gill Coleridge3
  Germain Greer
  Steve Voce
  Hilary Bradt
Mme Golaszewski
  Roger Laughton
  Gillian Hush






May 21, 1988

Dear Mme Golaszewski,

I hope you don’t be offended if I say that reading an analysis of the way I write is very confusing for me – I hardly recognise myself, because I see my writing in a totally different way from you. You analyse it from the outside; I build it from the inside. I don’t use structural analysis much at all – any piece which I plan well in advance usually turns out worse than pieces which evolve as I write. Very often I start with a vague idea, an opening line and one joke, not knowing where I am going and that is the sort I enjoy the best. It is often the one that turns out the best too. But when I work it out in advance, it goes cold on the page; well-built but uninteresting, like a dish which has been reheated too often.

It might be true to say that my main aim is to surprise the reader. But actually I think it is to surprise myself. My favourite music is jazz, and in a sense every piece is like a jazz solo on a barely stated theme.

In other words, I am the last person you should ask for advice on my writing. Especially when I cannot remember having written a piece – I could only just recall the two you sent me.

yours sincerely

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