The Columnist
  John Cleese
  Tony Bennett
  Melvyn Bragg
  Dick Hyman
  Graham Spiers
  Forbes and Newman
  George Gray
  Fr Dilke
  Harold Evans
  Marion Lloyd
  Edward Weston
  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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