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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Writing The Wasp Factory

At the start of 1980 I thought of myself as a science fiction writer, albeit a profoundly unpublished one. I’d wanted to be a writer since primary school and had started trying to write novels when I was 14, finally producing something loosely fitting the definition two years later: a spy story crammed with sex and violence (I still scorn the idea of only writing what you know about). It was written in pencil in an old ship’s logbook, and I didn’t even bother typing it up; I’d already decided it was juvenilia.

In The Guardian, Iain Banks talks about how his earliest experiments with fiction led to the novel which “was supposed to be a pro-feminist, antimilitarist work, satirising religion and commenting on the way we’re shaped by our surroundings and upbringing and the usually skewed information we’re presented with by those in power.”

3 Responses to “Writing The Wasp Factory”

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    And at about the same age I was writing my autobiography, also in pencil in two brown hard backed notebooks I’d bought from Woolworths. It makes me cringe now even thinking about it. It also was never typed up.

    jb says: I couldn’t possibly go back that far and look at the things I was writing. Those “explosive bloodbursts of a boily boy in love with the shape and sounds of words, death, unknown love and the shadows on his pillow,” as Dylan Thomas once put it.

  2. Dick says:

    Some hair-shirt compulsion has had me retaining all of my juvenilia. By and large, the charity towards youthful crassness that comes with age has me smiling in recollection of the consummate prat I was as a teenager. Charity gives way totally when occasionally one of those files falls open and the quarto file pages spill out!

    jb says: I can see it would be interesting now, Dick; and I did keep stuff for years in the mistaken belief that it would come in useful some time in the future. Then one day my angel turned up and helped to invent the waste basket.

  3. Steff Hall says:

    I havent read this yet but comments say its very gripping.

    jb says: Oh, yes, Steff, don’t wait too long. You have a treat in store.