On writing with the reader in mind:
Martin Amis: I never think of you. No, I think you’re dead if you’re writing for a certain reader.
Richard Ford: I couldn’t disagree more. I think if you don’t have a public, you don’t have a self as a writer. Get outside your room, get into the lives and houses of others, and live and reside there away from yourself.
Junot Diaz: For me, by having an audience member, an audience type in mind, it creates an economy of signification. If I’m writing to a universal undifferentiated mass, I might even have to explain what a table is, yeah? It means that I’m writing with a certain idea of what I don’t have to describe, or what I do have to describe… and as a reader you know that there is pleasure to be gained from feeling that you are being spoken to directly by a book, and there is a pleasure to be gained by feeling that you are overhearing something not meant for you.
Q&A, Martin Amis, Jay McInerney, Junot Diaz, Richard Ford: from The Crisis of American Fiction
Jim Crace: When you think of the traditions of storytelling in the whole world, from the Anansi legends of Nigeria, or the sagas of Iceland, the puppet plays of Indonesia, or the many myths of India, of course—the people who wrote those weren’t writing autobiographically. They were writing on behalf of the community, and that’s what I’ve rather pompously ended up doing. I believe that storytelling is one of the jewels in the crown of the human species. It’s the twin of consciousness. It’s the one thing that we do that no other creature in the world does, which is to constantly reinterpret and reinvent the world through narrative. That’s why I’m a writer, that’s why I’m passionate about being a writer.
The Jim Crace session: on storytelling, mining the past and why you should make up your own epigraphs
How to find a subject of absorbing interest to your audience:
Without comment, Jeet Thayil’s reading: a brief lexicon of Indian chuts, chuts in waiting, chuts by association, and the perfectionism of chutiyadom.
On language and Urdu:
Javed Akhtar: “Yeh zubaan hoti kya hai? Is your language the script? Is it the vocabulary? If I say, “yeh tent airconditioned nahi hai?” kya yeh Angrezi hai? The two most important words in this sentence are English, but is that an English sentence? So we’re beginning to understand that language is not the script, not the vocabulary; it’s the grammar, it’s the syntax.
(Reads a simple sentence and deconstructs it: that word is Persian, that word Turkish, that word Persian again, that word English, that word Arabic.)
I was once asked, Javed, yeh Urdu to Babar ke saath aayi thi, na?
Maine kaha, haan, woh ghode pe aa raha tha, Urdu burkha pehen ke peeche peeche aa rahi thi.
Javed Akhtar on Urdu.