Saturday 25 January 2020

trees make books

Margaret Atwood [L] gives a Masterclass. You become a writer by writing, there is no other way! She talks (graciously) to a couple of young wans.
Tip number 1: get a notebook.
How To on BigThink
Tip number 1: get a notebook.
I wish she would talk to our students! When I am sharing my insights about human physiology or water chemistry in front of a succession of powerpoint slides only a tiny fraction of the students in the room write anything down. They are confident that they will remember everything in May for the exams - but they are wrong. They will have forgotten 90% of what I've said by the next weekend. Even in one-to-one meetings [without powerpoint and considerably more rambling], students rarely have a note-book open and, even if they do, rarely write down what I tell them.

I'm writing about Atwood because of a neat story sent to me before Christmas by my pal Dec. Framstidsbiblioteket is a project dreamed up by Katie Paterson a concept artist from Scotland and she has recruited Margaret Atwood to write a book that neither of them will ever see in print. Paterson has mobilised a team to create a Norwegian Wood [not Beatles] that will grow for 100 years, then be felled, logged, pulped and used to print limited editions of 100 previously unpublished works. That's pretty aspirational: there are A Lot of ducks to put in a row: foresters, conservationists, regulators, legislators and curators; let alone authors, editors and curators. Preserving something for a long time is full of uncertainty. It is not true that Walt Disney's brain is sitting in a cryopreservation tank until a cure is discovered. Only a tiny fragment [7/123] of the works of Sophocles have come down to us in the 21stC. And no pressure on Atwood to devise a work that will have anything to say to the people of Dublin as a commute about the city in dinghies.

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