Irvine Welsh

Teaching Writing

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Irvine Welsh tells his students writing comes down to working hard.

Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh grew up in Leith, Scotland. The son of working class parents, he spent his childhood in government housing, a milieu he gave voice to in his hugely popular novel and subsequent film, Trainspotting. The book was an international success and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 1993. Welsh moved to London in his twenties and played in local punk bands but returned to Edinburgh in the late-80s. Drawing inspiration from the the rave culture there, he began writing seriously and submitting to literary journals. After Trainspotting, he published Ecstasy,  Glue, Porno, The Acid House and The Bedroom Secrets of Master Chefs. His books’ themes range from the Scottish identity, sectarianism, classism, immigration, unemployment, AIDS and drug use.  Recent works are The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs (2006),  a play, Babylon Heights (2006), written with Dean Cavanagh, and If You Liked School You'll Love Work (2007). His latest novel, Crime, was published in 2008.  He has taught undergraduate creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago and currently divides his time between Miami, Chicago, Dublin and London.




Irvine Welsh: I think the basic things. it’s like… It’s like kind of trying to sort of deglamourize the idea of writing and the writer from the lot of them, because I think I think that there is this kind of Hemmingwayesque, kind of [Borroughesque] kind of sort of myth about the right or this kind of outlaw, kind of hard drinking kind of outlaw figure, and I think that… And it’s a quite of glamorous kind of myth, but basically, this was a boring job. It’s about hard work. It’s about sitting in front of a computer until your eyes are ready to fall off your head.

It’s just kind of boring and lonely kind of craft and toil, . And unless you really enjoyed, unless you’re in vibe on doing that kind of thing, it’s maybe something that’s… it’s not for you, . So, I think that trying to encourage people, but but the basic thing about writing being rewriting. It’s like you just keep on and keep chipping away and all that. So, and not really, not really being swayed by the idea of superficiality, it the idea that you can write a bestseller on those kind of months and so… Or the idea that there is this intrinsic glamour in the writers life and there isn’t, really. The sort of interesting thing about being successful is that you do get to travel and go on all these literary festivals and sort of hang out with different people and stuff like that, but it’s such a small part of it. The biggest part of it is just kind of the sheer, solid, kind of mind numbing draft, basically.


Recorded on: September 8, 2008