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This review is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

THE WRITE WAY Teaching Creative Writing, edited by Moira Monteith and Robert Miles, (Open University Press) £35, £12.99 pb

I was at a reading by three of the country's most highly regarded novelists the other day. In the question period, the discussion turned, as such discussions will, from the books on offer to the writing trade at large. The authors were modest, rueful even, wondering why they had taken up such a difficult and problematical way of turning a buck, pondering on that time in the future when a day-job might be in order, mentioning, without being majestic about it, that writers have their demons and compulsions. What made them sound unintentionally patronizing, however, was their assumption that there was a clear demarcation between themselves, as practitioners, and their 'lay' audience. There are more writers around than meet the eye.

In her contribution to this collection Janet Burroway (author of Writing Fiction, probably the best teachers' aid in the field), quotes statistics which suggest that 25 per cent of Americans believe they write poetry or fiction. I'm surprised it's so few. In a sense I think we all do it all the time. Why else get up in the morning? We go through the day telling the stories of our lives to ourselves and when we become gaga or abstracted we can be overheard doing so. Sometimes I wonder if the postmodern penchant for the first person misses an important point. For much of the operation of consciousness the third person is the first person.

In short, there is a considerable demand for creative ...

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